Manafort’s attorneys argue for leniency in Virginia sentence

Paul Manafort’s defense attorneys are urging the federal judge presiding over his criminal case in Virginia to send the former Trump campaign chairman to prison for significantly less time than the 19.5 to 24 years recommended under the sentencing guidelines.

In a new filing Friday, Manafort’s attorneys said the range “is clearly disproportionate” to the criminal conduct Manafort was found guilty of by a jury in a federal district court in northern Virginia over the summer.

Manafort’s attorneys said in the filing that Manafort chose to go to trial on the charges in Virginia after  special counsel Robert Mueller declined to extend a reasonable plea offer.

Manafort, 69, was convicted of five counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts.

“The Special Counsel’s attempt to vilify Mr. Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this Court,” his attorneys said.

In the filing, the defense asked Ellis to consider Manafort’s “humble beginnings” as well as letters from family and friends attesting to his selflessness and generosity despite the negative press reports.

“There are many others who support Mr. Manafort and hope that his current situation will end soon; however, they were not comfortable publicly expressing their thoughts about and experiences with Mr. Manafort out of fear that they will be subjected to harassment and ridicule,” Manafort’s attorneys said in the 41-page sentencing memo.

“In fact, Mr. Manafort himself has expressly asked that some individuals not include a letter of support out of concern for the potential impact a public filing may have on their personal and/or professional lives.”

They also asked Ellis to consider Manafort’s age and health, the significant time he’s served in solitary confinement and the fact that he’s agreed to forfeit substantial assets accumulated over his working life.

The government has not taken a position on how much time specifically Manafort should get.