What Paul Manafort is really up against

When Palmer Report wanted to find out just exactly how much trouble Paul Manafort is in, legally speaking, we turned to nationally respected criminal defense attorney Mark H. Allenbaugh. Allenbaugh is also chief research officer of SentencingStats.com, the go-to site for defense lawyers who want to know definitively just how far up Shit Creek their client really is, and exactly how many paddles he has remaining, if any. The answer for Paul Manafort is interesting, and far less draconian than frequently quoted.

“This is a rather sophisticated case” Allenbaugh says, “it’s going to involve three groups of offenses.” The offenses include various counts of bank fraud (obtaining loans illegally), tax fraud (under-reporting income) and FBAR violations (failing to check the box on his tax return indicating he has foreign bank accounts.)

The interesting part is Manafort’s decision to go to trial. “Trials are rather rare in the criminal justice system,” Allenbaugh says, noting that most cases are decided by plea-bargaining. Going to trial is a choice a client and his attorney make when they think they have a good chance of winning. But in Manafort’s case not so much, as sentencing for charges as serious as his are rarely improved by plea bargain. In other words, he’s going to do heavy time either way, so why not roll the dice and go to trial?

The total statutory maximum is 305 years. But, “almost nobody ever gets the statutory maximum,” Allenbaugh points out. Mr Allenbaugh’s professional estimate of the sentence Paul Manafort is likely to draw? “Somewhere around the ten year mark.”

While that is significantly less than the 305 years routinely touted by the press, it’s certainly enough to virtually guarantee a life sentence for Paul Manafort, who turns seventy in April. While this may come as a significant disappointment for some regular readers of the Palmer Report, it’s instructive to remember the extralegal consequences of Manafort’s situation whose name will forever be linked to Donald Trump’s in historic infamy. Then there’s the sentence itself. Anyone who thinks drawing a ten year prison term in their seventieth year of life is anyone’s idea of “getting off easy” is certainly welcome to give it a try.

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