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National
Paul Manafort sentenced to 3.5 more years, hit with more indictments
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Paul Manafort sentenced to 3.5 more years, hit with more indictments

What You Need to Know: Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort sentenced to 3.5 more years, hit with more indictments

Prosecutors in New York announced new fraud charges Wednesday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, just minutes after a federal judge in Washington sentenced him to serve about seven years in prison in a separate conspiracy case.

>> Read more trending news

Part of the sentence handed down Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson will run concurrently with another sentence given to Manafort last week, at the end of his tax and bank fraud trial in Virginia. The Associated Press reported he will serve about 3.5 additional years in prison. 

Update 2:55 p.m. EDT March 13: Trump told reporters Wednesday that he felt “very badly for Paul Manafort” after his former campaign chairman was sentenced to nearly 7 years for a pair of conspiracy charges out of Washington.

“I feel it's a very sad situation,” the president said. “Certainly, on a human basis it's a very sad thing. I feel very badly for him.”

The charges brought against Manafort by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team did not touch on work he did for Trump.

The president claimed Wednesday’s hearing proved “there was no collusion” in the 2016 presidential election, which he repeatedly called a hoax. However, the investigation is ongoing.

Jackson noted Wednesday that Manafort’s case in Washington did not resolve any questions around whether there was collusion with the Russians in the 2016 presidential election, as the issues were “not presented in this case,” according to CNN.

Update 12:45 p.m. EDT March 13: Just minutes after a judge handed down a sentence for Manafort, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced new charges against the political consultant.

Vance said the charges were part of a “yearlong residential mortgage fraud scheme through which Manafort and others falsified business records to illegally obtain millions of dollars.”

“No one is beyond the law in New York,” Vance said in a statement announcing the charges. “Following an investigation commenced by our Office in March 2017, a Manhattan grand jury has charged Mr. Manafort with state criminal violations which strike at the heart of New York’s sovereign interests, including the integrity of our residential mortgage market. I thank our prosecutors for their meticulous investigation, which has yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable.”

>> Read the indictment

Update 12:30 p.m. EDT March 13: U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson handed down a sentence of about seven years Wednesday for Manafort, with part of it set to be credited at the same time as he serves his 47-month sentence in Virginia.

Manafort asked Wednesday for leniency, telling the court that he took responsibility for his actions, that he was sorry and that he didn’t want to be separated from his wife for more than the time he’s already been sentenced to in Virginia, BuzzFeed News reported. A judge last week sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison for bank and tax fraud.

Jackson said that despite his plea, there was “no explanation” from Manafort to support his request for leniency.

“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved” in Manafort’s case, Jackson said, according to CBS News Radio.

The lies are particularly important because “court is one of those places where facts still matter,” Jackson said, according to The Associated Press.

Jackson noted that the case did not resolve any questions around whether there was collusion with the Russians in the 2016 presidential election, as the issues were “not presented in this case,” according to CNN.

Update 12:10 p.m. EDT March 13: U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort on Wednesday to 60 months for conspiring against the United States and 13 months for conspiracy to launder money, Vox.com reported.

Some of the sentence handed down Wednesday will run concurrently with the 47 month sentence ordered by a judge in Virginia last week in a separate case also brought by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

>> More on Robert Mueller's investigation

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT March 13: Court is back in session after U.S. District Judge called a brief recess in the case, The Associated Press and BuzzFeed News reported.

Update 10:55 a.m. EDT March 13: Manafort addressed the court Wednesday, according to CNN.

“I am sorry for what I’ve done,” Manafort said, according to the news network.

He spoke from his wheelchair, CBS News Radio reported, telling the court that, with the support of family and friends, he’s become a “different person from the one who came before you in  October of 2017.”

"I say to you in the future that my behavior will be very different. I have already begun to change," Manafort said, according to CBS News Radio. “I ask that you find compassion in your sentencing.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson called a brief recess after Manafort spoke, according to CBS News Radio. His sentencing hearing is set to resume around 11:15 a.m.

Update 10:35 a.m. EDT March 13: Manafort is expected to address the court shortly in his sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann argued that the crimes Manafort committed, including witness tampering, “go to the heart of the American criminal justice system,” CBS News Radio reported.

"He engaged in crime again and again," Weissman said, according to BuzzFeed News. "He has not learned a harsh lesson. He served to undermine, not promote, American ideals of honesty, transparency, and playing by the rules."

Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, told the court Wednesday that his client “truly is sorry for violating the law,” CBS News Radio reported.

The hearing is ongoing.

Update 10:20 a.m. EDT March 13: Manafort appeared Wednesday morning in court wearing a purple tie and a dark suit in a wheelchair, according to CNN. Defense attorneys said earlier this year that Manafort has had severe gout for several months during his incarceration which has sometimes required him to make use of a wheelchair.

He stood from his chair of his own power when U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson entered the courtroom, CBS News Radio reported.

Jackson agreed to give Manafort credit for accepting responsibility for his crimes, The Associated Press reported. Prosecutors had argued that Manafort didn’t deserve credit because he later lied to investigators on several occasions, despite agreeing to cooperate as part of his guilty plea.

The hearing is ongoing.

Original report: Manafort is scheduled to appear at 9:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

The hearing will mark the 69-year-old’s second sentencing hearing in as many weeks after a judge in Virginia sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison for bank and tax fraud. Like the case in Washington, the Virginia charges were brought by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, although neither case touches on allegations of Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election or on his work with the Trump campaign.

>> More on Robert Mueller's investigation

Jackson will determine Wednesday whether Manafort’s sentences in Washington and Virginia should run at the same time or if they should be back-to-back.

>> Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sentenced to 47 months in prison for bank and tax fraud

Manafort pleaded guilty in September to a conspiracy charge in Washington and admitted he failed to pay taxes on millions of dollars’ worth of items from 2008 to 2014. He agreed to work with prosecutors, but the deal later fell apart when authorities said he lied to FBI investigators, prosecutors and others during more than 50 hours of interviews, The Washington Post reported.

Prosecutors did not ask Jackson for a specific sentence for Manafort in memos filed in court, however, the Post reported they asked the sentence “be enough to deter Manafort and others from committing similar crimes.”

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Nearly four decades after an Atlanta man was convicted in connection with one of the most horrific serial murder cases in U.S. history, doubt still lingers about his guilt, even among some investigators and victims’ families. Wayne Bertram Williams has sat in a Georgia prison since January 1984, convicted of two murders, those of Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21. Cater and Payne were both grown men, but many of the homicide victims Williams is suspected of killing were children. The three youngest victims were just 9 years old when they died. The oldest victim, John Porter, was 28.  All the dead were black.  On Thursday, more than 38 years after the end of the murders, Atlanta Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields announced that they are reopening the case and retesting any evidence that remains to put to bed, once and for all, speculation about Williams’ guilt in the crimes.  “It may be there is nothing left to be tested,” Bottoms said during a news conference. “But I do think history will judge us by our actions, and we will be able to say we tried.” >> Related story: Police to retest evidence in Atlanta child murder cases Bottoms, who said she was 9 years old when the crimes took place, recalled the terror the slayings unleashed on the community. She said she began thinking about taking another look at the case after meeting with Catherine Leach, whose 13-year-old son, Curtis Walker, was killed in March 1981. The mayor said applying modern technology to the testing of evidence will assure victims’ families that city and police officials “have done all that (they) can do do to make sure their memories are not forgotten and, in the truest sense of the word, to let the world know that black lives do matter.” Though Williams was tried for just two killings, the Atlanta Police Department attributed at least 22 of the other 29 known homicides to Williams and closed those cases. He is also a potential suspect in the case of a black child who went missing but was never found.  >> Read more trending news According to CNN, Williams’ convictions rested, in part, on dog hairs and a variety of fibers that prosecutors argued linked Williams’ home and car to both Cater’s and Payne’s bodies.  Williams, now 60, has maintained his innocence throughout the decades since his arrest and conviction.   “The bottom line is nobody ever testified or even claimed that they saw me strike another person, choke another person, stab, beat or kill or hurt anybody, because I didn’t,' Williams told CNN in a 2010 interview.  He said the panic in Atlanta over the serial killings put pressure on authorities to make an arrest. A black man had to be responsible, Williams continued, because arresting a white man would have sparked a race war. “Atlanta would’ve gone up in flames,” Williams told CNN.  Watch part of Thursday’s announcement in the Williams case, courtesy of WSB-TV in Atlanta. Forensic experts that same year found that human hair found on the body of Patrick Balthazar, 11, showed that Williams could not be excluded as the boy’s killer. CNN reported that Williams accused authorities of manipulating evidence against him. Retired FBI scientist Harold Deadman, who once served as the head of the agency’s DNA lab, told the news channel the findings in Balthazar’s case excluded 98 percent of the world’s population as the killer. Williams is in the other 2 percent, he said.  ‘A loud splash’ According to the FBI, the string of child murders that shocked Atlanta, and later the entire country, began July 21, 1979, with the killing of Edward Smith, 14, who was shot in the back. A second boy, 13-year-old Alfred Evans, was strangled to death just four days later. The killings continued, sometimes with multiple killings in a single month and others separated by as many as three months. Some victims were shot, stabbed or beaten, but the majority were strangled or otherwise asphyxiated.  The city of Atlanta asked the FBI for help in August 1980, by which time investigators were looking at six unsolved child murders and four missing persons cases in which foul play was suspected, according to FBI records. A task force had been established in the case, and FBI agents joined those efforts.  “Collectively, they focused on a dozen disappearances with several shared traits,” the FBI website says. “The victims were all young African-American males who vanished in broad daylight in fairly public locations. Their bodies were found in desolate areas. Their murders had no obvious motivation (in contrast, two other homicides from that period appeared to have been gang-related).  “These commonalities suggested a single killer.” As the murders continued unabated through 1980 and into early 1981, the killer began to change where he disposed of the bodies. By May 22, 1981, a total of six bodies had been recovered from the Chattahoochie River.  Another three victims were recovered from the waters or the banks of the South River, according to a 1981 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Task force investigators decided to begin staking out 14 bridges in the Atlanta metropolitan area in case, hoping to catch the killer in the process of dumping another victim, according to the FBI.  One early morning in May, they stumbled upon Wayne Williams, then a 23-year-old freelance cameraman and wannabe record producer.  Around 2:52 a.m. May 22, an FBI agent, an Atlanta police officer and two police cadets stationed at the South Cobb Drive Bridge heard “a loud splash” in the river and spotted a car on the bridge. “(The) car sped across the bridge, turned around in a parking lot on the other side and sped back across the bridge. The vehicle was pursued and stopped,” the FBI website says. Williams, who was driving the car, told the officers he was searching for the location of an audition he had set up with a woman for the following day. Without probable cause to hold him, the task force agents had to let him go. Two days later, Cater’s naked body was recovered from the river near the bridge. Like so many previous victims, he had been asphyxiated, the Journal-Constitution reported. The task force turned its attention to Williams. “Investigators soon learned that his alibi was poor and that he had been arrested earlier that year for impersonating a police officer,” the FBI website says. “Later, he failed multiple polygraph examinations.” Williams was again questioned for 12 hours over June 3 and 4, the Journal-Constitution said. He later told the media he’d been accused of Cater’s death and called a “prime suspect” in the case. He was again let go, but the task force kept him under constant surveillance. Knowing he was being watched, Williams would sometimes taunt the agents, including having them follow him June 10, 1981, to the home of Lee Brown, who was then Atlanta’s public safety commissioner.  He also took task force agents on a chase the night of June 20, driving to the homes of both Brown and then-Mayor Maynard Jackson, the newspaper reported. Williams was arrested in Cater’s death the next day. He was convicted the following February in the deaths of Cater and Payne. According to the FBI, Williams’ conviction was based on “meticulous hair and fiber analysis and witness testimony.” After the trial, the task force concluded that there was evidence to link Williams to at least 20 additional homicides.  Never far from people’s minds -- or from controversy The case, though nearly 40 years old, has never been far from the minds of those who lost loved ones. It has also sparked public interest through the years. CNN reported that celebrities including Sammy Davis Jr. and the Jacksons performed at benefit concerts for the victims’ families. Williams spoke to CNN in 2010 in conjunction with a documentary hosted by Soledad O’Brien, and more recently, the case was the subject of a podcast, “Atlanta Monster.” Netflix’s second season of its original series “Mindhunter” is anticipated to touch upon the case and Deadline reported last month that producer Will Packer was making a three-part special on the case titled “The Atlanta Child Murders.”  Packer’s documentary is scheduled to begin airing Saturday on cable network Investigation Discovery. The case has continuously sparked controversy over the decades. Louis Graham, who was a member of the original task force that investigated the killings, reopened some of the cases in 2005, a year after he became chief of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. “I never believed he did it,” Graham, who died in 2010, told the Journal-Constitution in 2005.  A total of five DeKalb County cases were reopened by Graham and his detectives: those of Balthazar, who was found strangled Feb. 13, 1981, in a wooded area; Walker, who was found asphyxiated March 6, 1981, in the South River; Joseph “Jo-Jo” Bell, 15, who was found asphyxiated April 19, 1981, in the South River; William Barrett, 17, who was found asphyxiated May 12, 1981, on a roadside; and Aaron Darnell Wyche, 10, who was found dead of a broken neck beneath a bridge June 24, 1980.  A sixth boy, Christopher Richardson, 11, vanished from DeKalb County, but his body was recovered June 9, 1980, in Fulton County.  Wyche’s father, Jesse Griffin, told the Journal-Constitution in 2005 that anyone with information about the killings needed to come forward. “It’s time for someone to step forward so the parents can rest a little bit more than they have been,” Griffin told the newspaper. “I’ve slept four hours at most since this incident happened. I’m hoping tonight I can have about two more hours added to that, knowing that this case is opened again and something’s going to be done about it.” The reopened DeKalb County cases were left to languish again a year later when Graham resigned after being caught on tape uttering a profanity-laced tirade, the Journal-Constitution reported.  Griffin is not the only parent of a victim who has doubted Williams’ guilt over the years.  Leach said Thursday that she had been let down over the years, not knowing for sure who killed her teen son.  “It seems like the Atlanta missing and murdered children have been forgotten in this city,” Leach said, according to CNN. “I don’t think it’s right for all these kids to be killed in this city, and nobody was concerned about it. “I want some closure. I want to know who killed Curtis.”
  • Orlando Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani is co-sponsoring a bill to allow illegal immigrants living in Florida to legally obtain a state driver’s license. “We can talk about the need to reform immigration as a whole, but this is one solution to make sure that our roads are safer,” Eskamani said over the phone on Thursday. Illegal immigrants would still have to take a driving test to get a license, and they’d be able to buy car insurance, which Eskamani said would generate additional revenue for the state.  She also believes the bill will encourage people to report accidents and crimes they see on the road. Eskamani agreed with the assessment that the bill (HB 969) does not attempt to change immigration policy but rather change policy dealing with Florida’s current immigrant situation. “On our roads, you have people who are undocumented who are driving their kids to daycare, who are going to work,” Eskamani said.  “They’re doing their best to live life to its fullest potential.” Under current Florida law, residents must prove U.S. citizenship or show a resident alien green card to get a state driver’s license.  This bill would allow people to use documents such as foreign passports, international birth certificates, or tax ID number to get one.   With the 2019 legislative session well underway in Tallahassee, neither the bill nor its Senate companion has seen a committee vote. The bill has gotten notable attention from Fox News, to which Eskamani mused on her Facebook page, “Wow, my first ever mention in Fox News!  This has to come with some sort of award right?”
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  • Federal authorities and Butler Township police are investigating after an explosive device was placed inside a mailbox and detonated, according to police. >> Read more trending news  The explosive device, which police believe was a commercial-grade firework, was detonated and destroyed the mailbox sometime between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, Butler Township Police Chief John Porter said in a media release. Police did not say what road the incident occurred on but described the area as a rural part of the township.  “Since tampering with a mailbox is covered under federal law, federal authorities have been notified and are participating with us in a joint investigation,” Porter said. “Our initial investigation shows there is no indication of any type of hate or bias crime at this time.”  Authorities continue to investigate.

Washington Insider

  • A man who was charged with sending explosive devices to a series of critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty on Thursday to the crimes, as federal prosecutors say Cesar Sayoc could spend the rest of his life in prison for mailing 16 improvised explosive devices to former President Obama, former Vice President Biden, as well as sitting Democratic lawmakers in Congress. 'For five days in October 2018, Cesar Sayoc rained terror across the country,' said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. 'Thankfully no one was hurt by these dangerous devices, but his actions left an air of fear and divisiveness in their wake.  'Sayoc has taken responsibility for his crimes, and will soon be sentenced to significant time in prison,' Berman added in a statement, as prosecutors labeled Sayoc's effort 'domestic terrorism.' 'Sayoc’s crimes were intended to incite fear among his targets and uncertainty among the general public,' said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney. Sayoc is scheduled for sentencing on September 12. In a statement issued by prosecutors, the feds said Sayoc pleaded guilty to 65 separate felony counts brought against him for his mail bomb flurry, which involved 16 identical looking padded envelopes sent from south Florida. 'Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded,' the feds stated. 'Sayoc also attached to the outside of each IED a picture of the intended victim marked with a red 'X.'' Sayoc’s mail bombs were sent to former Vice President Joseph Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, actor Robert De Niro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Rep. Maxine Walters (D-CA).   When Sayoc was arrested, authorities found his van, which was plastered in pro-Trump and anti-Democratic Party stickers and placards.