- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Manhattan District Attorney said Wednesday he will appeal last month’s court decision dismissing state fraud charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

In a filing with the New York Court’s Appellate Division, District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., requested an initial leave so he can ask a higher state court — the New York Court of Appeals — to overturn its October decision.

The letter serves as a placeholder until an appeal can be filed with the higher court.

“A more substantive filing will be made in the coming weeks once a judge is assigned to consider the appeal,” a spokesman for Mr. Vance’s office said.

A four-judge New York state Supreme Court appellate panel unanimously ruled to dismiss the case, saying the criminal fraud charges violated the state’s double jeopardy law, which bars defendants facing the same or similar charges they faced on the federal level.

The two-page order said the prosecution of Manafort for mortgage fraud and business record falsification charges were not different from the financial fraud case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller in 2018.

“The people failed to establish that the federal and state statutes, all of which were directed against fraudulent transactions, were designed to prevent very different kinds of harm or evil,” the court said. “The statutory differences cited by the people fall far short of satisfying the ‘very different kinds’ test”

It was the second time a New York court had dismissed the state charges against Manafort. A New York trial judge in December 2019 also said he could not be charged with the financial crimes for which he’d already been tried in federal court.

Some of the state charges appeared to be based on evidence introduced by Mueller’s team in Manafort’s August 2018 federal trial in Alexandria, Virginia.

The jury convicted him on eight charges but deadlocked on 10 other counts.
Manafort later pleaded guilty in Washington to separate but related charges stemming from his lobbying efforts in Ukraine. As part of the plea deal Manafort admitted that all of the charges against him were true.

The judges in Virginia and Washington sentenced him to a combined 7½ years in prison. He was released to home confinement in May because of coronavirus concerns after serving about a third of his sentence.

When Mr. Vance announced the New York indictment in March 2019 he said it involved “serious criminal charges for which the defendant had not been held accountable.”

At the time, political and legal analysts said the New York charges appeared to be an effort to ensure Manafort still served jail time if he was pardoned by the president. Although presidents can issue pardons or commute sentences for federal offenses, they do not have such authority on the state level.

Although Mr. Trump has repeatedly expressed sympathy for Manafort, he has not pardoned him or commuted his sentence.

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

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