Embattled former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort denies he ran a sham mortgage scam, pleading not guilty on Thursday to an assortment of fraud charges in Manhattan Supreme Court.
On March 13th, within an hour of his sentencing on federal fraud charges, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance hit Manafort with a 16-count indictment. In it, the DA outlined a year-long scheme in which the former Trump crony allegedly falsified business records to procure fraudulent, residential mortgages, netting himself millions in ill-gotten gains. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in state prison.
The thing is, Manafort is already serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for felony crimes uncovered in the course of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. He was convicted on eight counts of tax and bank fraud for his foreign lobbying, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Piling on state charges, Vance seemingly wanted to preclude the possibility of a presidential pardon, which could theoretically have opened an escape hatch on Manafort's federal prison sentence. Manafort's attorney, Todd Blanche, reportedly argued in court on Thursday that the indictment amounts to double jeopardy—that you can't prosecute a person twice for one offense—but then again, the Supreme Court did just rule on the legality of trying someone in both state and federal court for the same misconduct. Turns out, that's actually fine.
Manafort was first held in Virginia, and until last week, in a low-security federal prison in Pennsylvania. He was then slated for a transfer to Rikers before the Justice Department intervened at the last minute, citing concerns for 70-year-old Manafort's "health and personal safety." (He has gout, a condition his legal team contends has only worsened during his time behind bars.) On June 17th, he was moved to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, and will reportedly remain in federal custody throughout his trial, although Justice Maxwell Wiley did not say where. His next court date has been set for October 9th.