Friday, 16 November, 2018

Prosecutors: Paul Manafort says he's treated like 'VIP' in jail

Prosecutors: Paul Manafort says he's treated like 'VIP' in jail Prosecutors: Paul Manafort says he's treated like 'VIP' in jail
Gerardo Duncan | 14 July, 2018, 04:05

"The professionals at the Alexandria Detention Center are very familiar with housing high-profile defendants including foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors", U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III wrote in an order Wednesday. Moreover, he wrote, in the Alexandria jail, Manafort "will actually avoid the discomfort of long commutes during trial days".

The federal judge overseeing Paul Manafort's upcoming trial on bank and tax fraud charges is giving prosecutors until Friday to respond to defense requests to move the case to Roanoke, Va., and postpone its start now slated for later this month.

Prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday that Manafort has told people he is being treated like a "VIP" in the Northern Neck lockup, where he has his own phone and computer, writes emails and does not have to wear a uniform. "When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it re-connects to the Internet and Manafort's emails are transmitted", prosecutors said.

The defense team also criticized Mueller's apparent use of personnel to monitor Manafort's non-privileged phone calls.

Manafort has had hundreds of phone calls with his lawyers and even more with others and has sent emails through his lawyers to outside contacts, the special counsel's office wrote in the filing.

Far from being restrictive, prosecutors said Manafort had been given a personal telephone in his cell, which he used for more than 300 calls with attorneys and others over the past three weeks, and found a workaround to the jail's ban on email.

A hearing on Manafort's request for the trial delay is scheduled for July 17.

Manafort was ordered to jail by a federal judge in the District of Columbia, where he faces related charges. The "Defendant's access to counsel and his ability to prepare for trial trumps his personal comfort", noted Ellis.

In a Washington, D.C., court filing in which he described his jailing, Manafort had said he is kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. And he has had extensive access to his counsel and materials: On July 4, 2018, Manafort remarked in a taped prison call that he is able to visit with his lawyers every day, and that he has "all my files like I would at home".

Manafort also asked to have his Virginia trial delayed on the grounds that he needed more time to review the many documents in the case, which centers on his work for a Russia-aligned political party in Ukraine.

Manafort's house arrest was revoked last month amid witness tampering allegations and he was booked into the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va.

The special counsel said Manafort's actions violated federal law, and therefore violated the terms of his pretrial release.

While the Virginia case appears to be a fairly straightforward bank fraud and money-laundering prosecution, the Washington case may be more politically perilous to the White House because it could touch on the Trump campaign's possible connections to pro-Russian forces.

The 69-year old is now under arrest for bank fraud and money laundering with his criminal trial set to commence later this month. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"Manafort can hardly now complain about the order of the trials", the special counsel's attorneys said.

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