- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A New York judge Wednesday dismissed a state mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, saying the indictment violated double jeopardy laws.

“The law of double jeopardy in New York state … provides very narrow exceptions for prosecution,” Justice Maxwell Wiley of the state Supreme Court wrote. “The indictment is dismissed.”

Manafort is already serving 7½ years for federal tax and bank fraud charges. Earlier this year, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office accused Manafort of submitting false documents to banks for more than $20 million in loans.

The 16-count New York indictment included charges of residential-mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records.

Justice Wiley’s decision undercuts Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s bid to ensure Manafort served prison time in the event of a pardon by President Trump. Presidential pardons can be issued for federal crimes but do not apply to state or local offenses.

Mr. Trump has previously said he feels “very badly” for his one-time campaign chairman, but he added that a pardon was not “right now on my mind.”

A spokesman for Mr. Vance said he will appeal.

“We will appeal today’s decision and will continue working to ensure that Mr. Manafort is held accountable for the criminal conduct against the People of New York that is alleged in the indictment,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Manafort’s attorney Todd Blanche said the indictment was politically motivated and violated New York’s double jeopardy law.

“This indictment should never have been brought and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions,” he said in a statement.

Defense attorneys had pushed for the state charges against Manafort to be dropped, calling them identical to the federal crimes for which he had already been convicted, violating double jeopardy laws.

Prosecutors said the charges were valid because there are different requirements for federal and state charges.

Justice Wiley sided with Manafort’s attorneys, saying the indictment was too similar to the federal charges.

“Given the rather unique set of facts pertaining to the defendant’s previous prosecution in federal court, and given New York’s law on this subject, defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment as barred by state double jeopardy law must be granted,” he wrote.

The decision was handed down one week after Manafort was reportedly hospitalized for “cardiac events.” Manafort is said to be recovering at a hospital near the Lorreto, Pennsylvania correctional facility where he is detained.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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