Judge says Manafort might spend the ‘rest of his life in prison’

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort could be spending the “rest of his life in prison,” according to an order made public on Tuesday by the federal judge overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s case.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said that Manafort was a flight risk and placed him under “home incarceration.”

Manafort, a 68-year-old political consultant and lobbyist, joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, was subject to fresh indictments issued by a Virginia grand jury in February along with his business associate Rick Gates.

The 18 new charges, related to tax and bank fraud, are being considered in a separate case to the 12 charges first filed against the pair by Mueller through a Washington, D.C. grand jury in October of last year. Those October charges related to money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for political consultancy work undertaken in Ukraine for a pro-Russian party.  

Mueller’s probe is primarily investigating interference by Russia in the 2016 presidential election and alleged collusion by members of the Trump campaign.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to the 18 charges last week. 

With his Virginia trial is set to begin on July 10, and the trial in Washington will begin on Sept. 17, however, the judge warned that Manafort was “person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee and remain at large, as well as every incentive to do so.”

Manafort is under house arrest, a “24-hour-a day lock-down” during which he must obtain permission two days in advance from the court to attend medical or legal appointments and church. The judge imposed a $10 million penalty should Manafort fail to show up to court.

“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,” Ellis continued. “In this regard, he poses a substantial risk of flight and the above-mentioned conditions are the least restrictive conditions that will reasonably assume defendant’s appearance at trial.”

The cases carry a combined maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines.

David Gilmour

David Gilmour

David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.