On Thursday Special Counsel Robert Mueller backed up the Mueller Machine and dumped another load of charges on the heads of Manafort and his former assistant, Richard Gates.
The indictment, which was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia (because that’s where the actions took place) charges them with a scheme to defraud the government of tax revenues while the money was flowing in, and then defraud the banks when the funds dried up.
As the indictment tells the story,
MANAFORT and GATES generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work. From approximately 2006 through the present, MANAFORT and GATES engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities, while enjoying the use of the money. During the first part of the scheme between approximately 2006 and 2015, MANAFORT, with GATES’ assistance, failed to pay taxes on this income by disguising it as alleged “loans” from nominee offshore corporate entities and by making millions of dollars in unreported payments from foreign accounts to bank accounts they controlled and United States vendors. MANAFORT also used the offshore accounts to purchase United States real estate, and MANAFORT and GATES used the undisclosed income to make improvements to and refinance their United States properties.
In the second part of the scheme, between approximately 2015 and at least January 2017, when the Ukraine income dwindled after Yanukovych fled to Russia, MANAFORT, with the assistance of GATES, extracted money from MANAFORT’s United States real estate by, among other things, using those properties as collateral to obtain loans from multiple financial institutions. MANAFORT and GATES fraudulently secured more than twenty million dollars in loans by falsely inflating MANAFORT’s and his company’s income and by failing to disclose existing debt in order to qualify for the loans.
The rest of the document details the machinations in delightful detail. Here is the text for your reading pleasure.
One of the defendants (the documents filed do not say which one) refused to waive venue to allow the charges to be tried together with the ones previously filed in DC, which means the defendants will be appearing in two courtrooms. Gates also switched lawyers, so it looks like he may not be pleading guilty anytime soon.
Just as an amused aside, here’s one of the funniest parts of the indictment.
Y'all I'm dying, Manafort created an incriminating paper trail because he needed someone to help him convert a Word doc to PDF. pic.twitter.com/CTE4oV7zj0
— Susan Simpson (@TheViewFromLL2) February 22, 2018
BREAKING: Today (Feb 23) Richard Gates pled guilty to a two-count superseding information filed in the DC case. It charged Gates with conspiracy against the United States (filing false tax returns) and lying to the FBI.
The New York Times reports,
Appearing with his attorney in a Washington courtroom on Friday afternoon, Mr. Gates changed his plea, acknowledging that he participated in the financial conspiracy with Mr. Manafort.
He also admitted that he lied to investigators earlier this month — after he was under indictment and was negotiating with the prosecutors — about the details of a 2013 meeting in Washington that Mr. Manafort had with a member of Congress and a lobbyist, during which there was a discussion about Ukraine, where Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates worked as political consultants.
The original charges carried a potential life sentence. The ones he pled to still have a 5-year exposure, but the government is expected to submit a sentencing memo recommending less time, perhaps much less, no doubt depending on how valuable Gates’ information is.
Gates could actually be more valuable than Manafort in detailing the Trump administration involvement. As NYT reports,
It is unclear exactly what he might have to offer the special counsel, or what his cooperation with Mr. Mueller means for President Trump. Neither indictment indicated that either Mr. Gates or Mr. Manafort had information about the central question of the investigation — whether Mr. Trump or his aides coordinated with the Russian government’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 election.
… Mr. Gates was present for the most significant periods of activity of the campaign, as Mr. Trump began developing policy positions and his digital operation engaged with millions of voters on platforms such as Facebook. Even after Mr. Manafort was fired by Mr. Trump in August 2016, Mr. Gates remained on in a different role, as a liaison between the campaign and the Republican National Committee. He traveled aboard the Trump plane through Election Day.
In addition to offering some visibility into the Trump campaign, Mr. Gates might be able to provide prosecutors with glimpses into decision-making in the months after the president’s election victory. He was a consultant on the transition team, and he also worked in 2017 with America First Policies, the main outside group supporting the Trump presidency.
Stay tuned, kids.