Manafort asks judge for sentence far below the maximum: court filing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort asked a federal judge in Washington on Monday to impose a prison term “significantly below” the statutory 10-year maximum, saying he was remorseful for his misdeeds and facing deteriorating health.

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at U.S. District Court in Washington, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst//File Photo/File Photo

Manafort, 69, who is due to be sentenced on March 13, pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington last September to conspiracy against the United States - a charge that includes a range of conduct from money laundering to unregistered lobbying for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government - and conspiracy to obstruct justice for attempts to tamper with witnesses.

He can be sentenced up to five years for each count, for a statutory maximum of 10 years.

“We respectfully request that the Court impose a sentence

significantly below the statutory maximum sentence in this case,” Manafort’s lawyers said in the filing on Monday night.

“Mr. Manafort has been punished substantially, including the forfeiture of most of his assets,” the lawyers added. “In light of his age and health concerns, a significant additional period of incarceration will likely amount to a life sentence for a first time offender.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team said in a filing on Saturday that Manafort “repeatedly and brazenly” broke the law, and argued he did not deserve leniency at sentencing. [nL1N20I0CC]

While Mueller did not recommend a specific sentence, he portrayed Manafort as a “hardened” criminal who was at risk of repeating criminal behavior if released from prison.

Despite Manafort’s agreement to plead guilty and cooperate, Mueller’s team in November accused Manafort of violating the agreement by lying repeatedly to prosecutors on subjects including his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled earlier this month that Manafort had breached the deal.

Manafort’s attorneys on Monday disputed prosecutors’ characterization of their client as a brazen criminal.

“This case is not about murder, drug cartels, organized crime, the Madoff Ponzi scheme or the collapse of Enron,” they wrote.

Mueller is investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and any collusion between Russia and the campaign of President Donald Trump.

Russia denies trying to interfere in the election, and Trump says his team did not collude with Moscow.

In Monday’s filing, Manafort’s lawyers stressed that their client had not been charged with Russian collusion.

They also provided the judge with quotes from multiple character witnesses, including Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, and daughter Andrea Shand, who said her father is “truly a good man” who is “worthy of forgiveness.”

It did not cite any letters from Manafort’s other daughter, Jessica Manafort, who has since legally changed her last name to Bond.

Manafort is due to be sentenced on March 8 in a separate case in Alexandria, Virginia. He faces up to 25 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines in that case, in which he was convicted last year of financial crimes.

In Monday’s filing, Manafort’s lawyers asked the Washington judge to impose a concurrent sentence if he receives prison sentences in both cases.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Eric Beech; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Peter Cooney