Federal prosecutors have decided they won’t seize a lavish Hamptons mansion and other New York-area homes from Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chief convicted of financial crimes in 2018 as part of the Mueller investigation, after he was pardoned by Donald Trump last year.
Even though Mr Manafort had already begun serving his seven-and-a-half year sentence for financial crimes, litigation was ongoing over seizing a mansion in the Hamptons, a brownstone home in an upscale Brooklyn neighbourhood, and an apartment near Manhattan’s Chinatown, among other assets, to satisfy the $11 million monetary judgment that came with the charges. On Friday, prosecutors dropped the seizures, given that former president Trump pardoned Mr Manafort on his way out of office in December.
"The department has determined that due to President Trump’s full and unconditional pardon of Paul Manafort, it is necessary to dismiss the criminal forfeiture proceedings involving the four assets which were the subject of the on-going forfeiture ancillary proceedings," a Justice Department spokesman told Politico on Friday, after the case was dropped.
It’s unclear how much of the property will actually return to Mr Manafort, as it may be sold to pay off debts or be claimed by creditors. Other assets had already passed to the government before the forfeiture case ended, including a bank account, a life insurance policy, and an apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower building.
A lawyer for Mr Manafort did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent.
The decision to drop the forfeiture is the latest bit of relief for Mr Manafort, who originally faced a mountain of charges including conspiracy to launder money, and failing to register as a foreign agent for his work with a Ukrainian political party.
Prior to being pardoned, Mr Manafort, 71, was released to serve his sentence in home detention in 2020 due to coronavirus considerations.
And this February, a New York appeals court ruled that New York district attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr., a Democrat, couldn’t keep prosecuting Mr Manafort on similar state charges, including mortgage fraud, because it would amount to double jeopardy. The charges were filed in what was understood as a way to ensure for Mr Manafort would still be prosecuted if he received a federal pardon from the president.
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