Paul Manafort’s $15,000 ostrich pores and skin jacket and different proof of the previous Trump marketing campaign chairman’s conspicuous consumption grabbed the headlines throughout his tax and financial institution fraud trial.
Nevertheless it was the detailed and methodical testimony of an FBI forensic accountant who traced Manafort’s cash that will have sealed his destiny.
Manafort, a veteran political operative, was convicted on Tuesday on two counts of financial institution fraud, 5 counts of tax fraud and one cost of failing to reveal international financial institution accounts. Jurors in federal court docket in Alexandria, Virginia, couldn’t attain a verdict on 10 different counts, leading to a mistrial on these expenses.
Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, mentioned his shopper was disillusioned within the verdict and was evaluating his choices.
The trial of Manafort, who chaired Donald Trump’s marketing campaign in mid-2016 when Trump was chosen because the Republican presidential nominee, by no means handled potential collusion between the marketing campaign staff and Russia or efforts to impede justice that Particular Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating.
Nevertheless it was the primary courtroom victory for Mueller, and the prosecution mirrored his customary thoroughness, in accordance with former subordinates within the FBI and Justice Division.
On Aug. eight, every week into the trial, FBI accountant Morgan Magionos described doc after doc exhibiting how Manafort managed an online of abroad financial institution accounts that wired $16 million in untaxed earnings to U.S. companies starting from landscapers to the clothier in Manhattan that bought him the ostrich jacket.
Prosecutors entered 388 displays into proof and provided testimony from 27 witnesses who painted an image of Manafort as a tax cheat who used offshore accounts to cover a good portion of the $60 million-plus he earned working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine and lied to banks for acquire loans when the work dried up in 2014 and he wanted money.
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Though vivid examples of his lavish way of life had been on show all through the trial, it was the nuts and bolts of the cash path that prosecutors employed to ascertain his guilt.
Magionos walked the jury by how Manafort used offshore accounts with cash on which he had not paid taxes to wire $6.7 million to buy New York actual property, a half-million to purchase vintage rugs in Virginia, and $750,000 to panorama his property within the Hamptons.
Magionos was additionally the primary witness whom prosecutor Greg Andres talked about in his closing assertion, and Andres went on to invoke her testimony 13 extra occasions to the jury.
Daniel Alonso, former chief of the legal division of the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in Brooklyn, New York, lauded Mueller’s staff’s painstaking work stitching collectively the witnesses and proof, every corroborating the opposite.
Andres and Andrew Weissmann, a key architect of the Manafort case, labored collectively within the Brooklyn federal prosecutor’s workplace practically twenty years in the past.
“The general public doesn’t notice how troublesome it’s to get all that proof and all these witnesses in court docket on the similar time,” mentioned Alonso. “That is the best way we did it within the Japanese District of New York. It’s the best way it’s accomplished by good U.S. attorneys across the nation.”
Weissmann made a reputation for himself as a frontrunner on the federal activity pressure that investigated fraud on the power firm Enron, which collapsed in 2001. In 2011, he turned Mueller’s common counsel when Mueller was operating the FBI.
It was across the similar time that Magionos, a cellist and former worker at Deloitte & Touche, joined the FBI as a forensic accounting specialist who is sensible of complicated monetary transactions and ferrets out fraud.
Her testimony instantly adopted that of Rick Gates, ostensibly the prosecution’s “star witness” who testified that he helped Manafort commit varied frauds, however whose credibility withered below cross-examination about his personal wrongdoing.
Andres used Magionos to introduce practically 50 displays into proof, together with paperwork opening financial institution accounts in Cyprus and St. Vincent and the Grenadines that had been secured below a authorized treaty, a few of which had Manafort’s passport on file.
“She was the one who allowed that star witness to testify,” mentioned former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin, referring to Andres’ memorable remark in summations that the “star witness” of the casewas “the paperwork,” not Gates.
Manafort’s defence staff was capable of increase doubts concerning the testimony of a few of the witnesses, resulting in the jury failing to achieve a consensus on 10 of the fees.
However defence attorneys’ effort to undercut Magionos fell quick.
Beneath cross-examination, Magionos acknowledged signature of Manafort’s on account paperwork for Actinet Buying and selling Ltd, one in all his Cypriot entities, didn’t seem to match his signature on a separate doc secured in a search of Manafort’s dwelling. However she didn’t flinch when pressed on how she may very well be so certain it was Manafort’s cash.
“I do see who benefited probably the most from the disposition of funds from that account,” Magionos replied.
Magionos testified that $three million was wired in 2012 from Actinet’s checking account to the belief account of Manafort’s longtime actual property lawyer, Bruce Baldinger. Across the similar time, a virtually equal quantity was transferred to a title firm for Manafort’s buy of a brownstone in Brooklyn, she mentioned.
In the long run, jurors heeded a plea made by prosecutor Uzo Asonye in his opening argument three weeks in the past.
“He received the financial institution loans. He received the cash. He received to make use of the untaxed earnings,” Asonye mentioned. “Because the previous adage goes: Simply observe the cash.”