Manafort asks for compassion before sentencing

US President Donald Trump

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump who found himself one of the major players at the epicenter of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, will be sentenced Thursday afternoon at a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

Manafort, who turns 70 in April, faces potentially spending the rest of his life behind bars when he comes before Judge T.S. Ellis at on Thursday afternoon, USA time, in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom.

The eight crimes for which Manafort will be sentenced on Thursday include five convictions of tax fraud from 2010 through 2014, hiding his foreign bank accounts from federal authorities in 2012 and defrauding two banks for more than $4 million in loans intended for real estate.

The sentencing guidelines for Manafort's crimes call for between 19 and 24 years in prison but his defense attorneys have urged Judge TS Ellis to impose a "substantially" lower jail term.

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

Manafort pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges in a separate but related case in Washington, D.C. He also admitted his guilt in the 10 counts in Virginia on which the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Paul Manafort pictured in June previous year arriving for a court hearing in Washington DC. Manafort contends he is mere collateral damage in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller's prosecutors have so far not taken a position on what Manafort's sentence should be, although they are expected to weigh in during the Washington hearing on whether the sentences should be concurrent or consecutive.

Prosecutors said Manafort repeatedly lied to them in debriefings about several matters, including his interactions with Kilimnik, a translator. "I ask you to be compassionate".

His attorneys say he is suffering from a number of health conditions.

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At a sentencing hearing, Manafort reportedly wore a green jumpsuit and was in a wheelchair, and he spoke to the court and told the judge, "I know it is my conduct that brought me here". He also said Manafort has lived an "otherwise blameless life" - a freaky claim about a man who has worked to boost the autocratic rulers overseas. It said Manafort "blames everyone from the special counsel's office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices".

"Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars", prosecutors wrote in a court filing. Manafort, according to the filing, still owes the U.S. Treasury over $6 million.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been jailed for almost four years.

Turning 70-years-old in less than a month, today's sentence could very well amount to a life sentence for Mr. Manafort in and of itself.

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Prosecutors alleged that Manafort used offshore bank accounts in Cyprus to hide more than $US55 million from Ukrainian politicians from the tax authorities.

Manafort's team accused Mueller of attempting to "vilify Mr. Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon", saying investigators' actions were "beyond the pale" and "grossly" overstated the facts of the case.

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