(Reuters) - Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted of numerous federal crimes last year, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to residential mortgage fraud and other New York state charges, setting the stage for a showdown over whether the new charges amount to double jeopardy.
Handcuffed and in blue prison garb, Manafort, 70, entered the courtroom, walking with a slight limp, as someone shouted “traitor” from the hallway.
“Not guilty,” he told Justice Maxwell Wiley of the state Supreme Court in Manhattan at his arraignment on the 16 felony count indictment announced in March by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
The charges include mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying records related to Manafort’s efforts to obtain millions of dollars in loans on properties in New York and elsewhere between 2015 and 2017.
Manafort worked for U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House campaign for five months until August 2016, including a stint as chairman.
Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Manafort, said he planned to seek a dismissal of the indictment on double jeopardy grounds.
The charges centre on mortgage applications to three banks involving properties in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Hamptons and California, according to a filing by prosecutors on Thursday. The loans were also largely at issue in Manafort’s trial in federal court in Virginia last year.
Under New York law, a person can be prosecuted twice for the same act only in specific circumstances, including when at least one element of the crimes is distinct and the statutes address “very different kinds of harm or evil.”
Vance’s office will likely argue an exception to New York’s double jeopardy protections is warranted in Manafort’s case.
The filing also suggested Vance’s office plans to use Manafort’s admissions that he made misrepresentations in mortgage applications in New York. The admissions were part of a plea agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller last September.
Manafort was later found to have breached that plea deal and is currently serving a 7-1/2-year sentence for tax fraud, bank fraud and other charges stemming from Mueller’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller’s prosecutors accused him of hiding $16 million from U.S. tax authorities that he earned as a consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine and then lying to banks to obtain loans to maintain a luxurious lifestyle.
Wiley scheduled Manafort’s next court appearance for Oct. 9, and Manafort will remain in federal custody.
The New York charges are widely viewed as an attempt to ensure that Manafort serves significant prison time even if Trump pardons him, which the president has not ruled out.
Trump can pardon people for federal crimes, but not state crimes. Manafort faces up to 25 years in prison in New York on the top state charges.
The New York case has attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, which this month decided to keep Manafort in federal custody because of concern for his health and safety.
That intervention, which legal experts said was unusual and raised concerns of special treatment, ensured that Manafort would not move to New York’s Rikers Island jail pending trial.
Manafort was moved to a federal facility in Manhattan on June 13, after having been housed at a low-security federal prison in Pennsylvania.
Reporting by Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld in New York; Writing by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Noeleen Walder
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