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DOJ Rejects Plan for Manafort to Leave Federal Custody and Go to Rikers Island
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18 Jun 2019 06:19 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Paul Manafort (Image source: Screenshot)



At a time when many are looking past the crimes of the Trump campaign and administration and looking straight to the president himself, the prison stay of his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is still being questioned. While he's serving 7-1/2 years at a federal correctional institution in Loretta, Pennsylvania, there was a push to transfer him to the Rikers Island prison for additional charges in New York. 

Manafort was Donald Trump's chairman throughout the summer of 2016 and is a key player in the Russia investigation. He was found guilty of eight counts of bank fraud and tax evasion in August 2018. The next month he took a plea deal for conspiracy and witness tampering.


The 70-year-old was called out by former special counsel Robert Mueller a few months later for not complying with the terms of his deal, with prosecutors no longer bound to the deal they'd agreed to. He was sentenced to 47 months minus time served for the first set of crimes in Virginia, and in Washington D.C. he received an additional 43. With the total time being 7-1/2 years in prison, 30 months of the second sentence are to run concurrently with the first. 

Just after Manafort received the second sentence, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. indicted him for 16 more felonies including mortgage fraud, falsifying business records, and other charges.


The judge attempted to bring Manafort in to Rikers Island ahead of the New York state trial. Yet, because he is doing federal time, the request to move him had to go through Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who denied the request. 

"There's no reason for [Manafort] to go to Rikers," a source told Fox News. "He can go to his New York initial appearance and then return to federal custody."


Rikers Island has seen very notable hardened criminals, including Son of Sam David Berkowitz and John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman. 

"Rikers Island & Solitary Confinement are both tortures 'no one' should be subjected to," tweeted public defender Scott Hechinger.


"By supporting solitary for Manafort, we support an immoral, barbaric, cruel and unusual practice. Torture with long-lasting, debilitating mental health consequences. And solitary for one means solitary is available for all." 

"It is yet another example of the weaponization of the criminal process for partisan advantage," added attorney and Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz. He believes Manhattan prosecutors are doing this purposely, putting Manafort through tough conditions, to get him to work with them in their investigations of Trump.


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) compared the suggested move to solitary in Rikers to "torture."


Manafort will stay in federal prison for now in either New York or Pennsylvania. 

On Monday the Supreme Court upheld a constitutional rule that allows state and federal levels of government to prosecute someone for the same crime. This means Manafort can be tried separately in New York for some of the same crimes he is already serving time for. It also means if he is convicted in New York and Trump pardons him for his federal crimes, that he'll still have to serve time in New York.

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