Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Judge snags Manafort's perks with jail transfer

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| 14 July, 2018, 04:03

Judge T.S. Ellis III had directed the U.S. Marshals Service to move Manafort from the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va., and bring him closer to the courthouse in Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington. Judge Ellis initially ordered on Tuesday that Manafort should be moved closer to the Washington, D.C., area "to ensure that defendant has access to his counsel and can adequately prepare his defense".

Prosecutors say Manafort has a personal telephone that he uses to prepare for trial with lawyers.

Hoping to delay his trial in Virginia on charges of bank fraud and money laundering, Paul Manafort instead managed this week to get himself transferred from a jail where prosecutors said he described his treatment as "VIP" to one where his lawyers claim he is anxious about his safety.

But prosecutors wrote that in a taped phone call from prison, Manafort told the person on the other end, "I've gone through all the discovery now". They also say he has his own workspace and has had more than 100 phone calls with lawyers in the last three weeks.

"Think about how it'll play elsewhere", Manafort said, according to the court filing.

As for listening in on Manafort's phone calls, Nanavati wrote: "Armed with personal conversations between Mr. Manafort and his family, the special counsel selects snippets to support its version of events".

Manafort has even "developed a workaround" to send emails, which prisoners normally would not be allowed to do, according to prosecutors.

Paul Manafort's complaints about his life in jail backfired spectacularly Wednesday.


Ellis concluded that Manafort's ability to prepare for trial "trumps his personal comfort". Contrary to Manafort's assertions, the prosecutors argued that his jail, while located two hours from Washington, had provided him with ample access to his lawyers and had not hindered his preparation for trial.

Prosecutors working for the special counsel in the Russian Federation inquiry, Robert Mueller, suggested to Ellis this week that Manafort was trying to delay the Virginia case so that he would face the charges in Washington first. Phone calls with him were limited to 10 minutes, and electronic communications were restricted, they said.

Manafort also asked to have his Virginia trial delayed on the grounds that he needed more time to review the many documents in the case, which centers on his work for a Russia-aligned political party in Ukraine.

While the judge has ordered Manafort to change jails, he hasn't ruled on the larger motion to delay the trial. Besides the charges of financial fraud in Virginia, he faces charges in Washington, including violating federal lobbying laws. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort's attorneys have denied the tampering allegations and appealed his detention.

"The five previously charged counts against Manfort remain unchanged: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] statements, and false statements", the special counsel's spokesman said last month.

But Manafort's legal team didn't complain until the last minute, the US said.

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