Trump’s ex-aide Manafort defeats Manhattan district attorney’s attempt to revive New York fraud charges


NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York appeals court on Thursday upheld the dismissal of state fraud charges against Paul Manafort, saying reviving the case against the former campaign chairman of US President Donald Trump would violate the rules of double criminality.

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is escorted to court for his arraignment at the New York Supreme Court in New York, United States, June 27, 2019. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson / File Photo

In a 4-0 vote, the Mid-Level Appeal Division rejected Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s claim that his case against Manafort warranted an exception to a state law prohibiting to judge him twice for the same behavior.

Danny Frost, a spokesperson for Vance, said his office would review his appeal options.

Vance announced Manafort’s indictment on 16 counts in March 2019, less than an hour after a judge sentenced Manafort to 7.5 years in prison on federal charges.

The federal case stems from former US special adviser Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, which led to Manafort’s conviction in August 2018 for tax evasion and bank fraud.

Manafort worked on Trump’s White House campaign for five months in 2016.

In dismissing the Vance case last December, Manhattan trial judge Maxwell Wiley said the federal bank fraud and residential mortgage fraud laws under which Manafort was being sued were aimed at tackling credit abuse. and avoid a financial crisis.

Wiley said the laws did not target “very different types of harm or harm,” an exception to New York’s double jeopardy protections, and therefore Vance could not prosecute Manafort.

The appeals court agreed, saying the differences cited by Vance between statutes “fall far short of the ‘very different types’ test.”

Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Manafort, welcomed the ruling, calling Vance’s indictment a “flagrant violation of New York law.”

Manafort, 71, was returned to house arrest in May, after his lawyers said his health problems put him at a higher risk if he contracted the coronavirus in prison.

A conviction of Vance, a Democrat, could have secured Manafort’s legal responsibility even if Trump, a Republican, had pardoned him.

American presidents cannot forgive people for state crimes.

Report by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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