Paul Manafort could face the rest of his life – and almost 300 years or more – in prison, a federal judge said Tuesday.
“Given the nature of the charges against the defendant and the apparent weight of the evidence against him, defendant faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison,” federal judge T.S. Ellis III of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia wrote Tuesday.
Ellis last week placed Manafort under home incarceration while wearing a GPS monitor and set a $10 million unsecured bail.
Manafort, 68, has been under similar home arrest and bail conditions for a separate case in Washington, DC, federal court that was filed in late October.
Taken together, the former Trump campaign chairman faces strict restrictions and heavy potential consequences as he awaits his two jury trials this year. If Manafort were to choose to avoid trial and change his plea to guilty, like his co-defendant Rick Gates has already done, he could be forced by special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors to share details he knows about Trump campaign officials’ contact with Russians and other foreign nationals.
Manafort for decades had conducted business built upon his relationships with Russian-sympathetic Ukrainians and other powerful European former politicians, and had been in contact with them while leading the Trump campaign.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
Ellis said Manafort has the financial resources and international connections to help himself flee before his trial and stay at large, “as well as every incentive to do so.”
Manafort is currently wearing two GPS monitors – one from the federal court in Virginia and one from the federal court in DC.
Manafort faces a maximum of 305 years in prison if found guilty on all charges in Virginia.
On tax charges he faces in Virginia alone, his likely sentence would be eight years, prosecutors said in a previous court filing. He also faces nine charges of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy, which each carry a maximum 30 years in prison, for 270 years maximum.
In the DC case, Manafort faces a likely sentence of 15 years to 20 years in prison if convicted there on five total conspiracy charges and foreign lobbying violations.
The allegations in his criminal indictments, brought by Mueller’s office this fall and winter, describe a scheme of shell companies and offshore bank accounts Manafort used to hide his earnings from lobbying for Ukrainian politicians. He then allegedly used those earnings to obtain mortgages and buy home renovations and luxury goods.
Manafort currently has to inform both the courts in DC and in Virginia if he’d like to leave his house for any reason except for medical emergencies, religious services and to meet with his lawyers or appear in courts.
The Virginia judge’s order Tuesday specified he should not drink excessively or use drugs that aren’t prescribed to him, and that he’s effectively on a “24-hour-a-day lock-down.” Manafort has already forfeited his passports to federal authorities and can’t apply for new travel documents.
“He is quite manifestly a risk of flight. He has substantial personal assets and faces a substantial period of incarceration if he is convicted,” Ellis said in court last week, before issuing today’s order.
Manafort is set to go to trial in Virginia on July 10, and in Washington on September 17.