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Paul Manafort's former son-in-law sentenced on fraud charges

A judge in California sentenced a man to nine years in a federal prison on Nov. 8 for orchestrating a string of fraudulent schemes. The judge also ordered him to pay $6.7 million in restitution to his victims. The man, who was once married to the daughter of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, faced the judge after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

During the sentencing hearing in Los Angeles, the U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case made scathing criticisms of the man's attitude and behavior. He said the man showed no remorse for attempting to bilk his victims out of about $13 million and suggested that he actually seemed to prefer illegal activities to honest work. The U.S. attorney also pointed out to the judge that the man had committed some of his crimes while out on bond for similar offenses.

Schemes the man has admitted to being involved in include renting out luxury homes without first consulting their owners, selling bogus passes that visitors to the Coachella music festival were told would grant them backstage access and using a family member's personal information to run up more than $100,000 in credit card debt. One of the man's most audacious schemes was convincing the actor Dustin Hoffman and his son to invest more than $3 million in a fraudulent real estate deal. The man admits that he used the money to fund his lavish lifestyle.

This case reveals that U.S. attorneys may be willing to reduce the penalties for fraud substantially to avoid a trial even when they have strong evidence of guilt and a great deal of disdain for the defendant. When the facts of a white-collar crime are less egregious, experienced criminal defense attorneys may encourage federal prosecutors to reduce the penalties still further by bringing mitigating factors to their attention such as genuine remorse and a desire to make restitution.

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