Manafort’s ‘right-hand man’ to testify in fraud trial

Paul Manafort ‘guilty of crimes against fashion’ – but still no Russian collusion

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - On Friday, Cindy Laporta, a longtime accountant for Paul Manafort, admitted to helping Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, falsify financial documents in an effort to commit tax fraud. Laporta said she later regretted her actions but at the time didn't want to risk losing a lucrative client. She also said she knew the returns weren't accurate. Manafort faces 18 charges for financial crimes that carry a maximum penalty of 305 years behind bars. She said, "It's not appropriate. you can't pick and choose".

"I could have called them liars", she said of Manafort and Gates. Ayliff said that such declarations are the client's responsibility and that the firm isn't responsible to check the accuracy of information provided by a client. She also told bank officials a loan to Mr. Manafort had been forgiven despite having no documentation that was the case.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III asked Laporta about her understanding of the forgiven loan.

The proceedings have caught the attention of President Donald Trump.

Gates's testimony "will certainly be the climax" of the Manafort trial, said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now at the McCarter & English law firm.

Gates has pled guilty to several charges that Mueller brought against him, and he's cooperating with the Mueller probe.

Given the impact of Laporta's testimony, it is now unlikely the prosecution will call O'Brien to the stand, according to a person close to the case.

Laporta also detailed multiple examples in which Manafort and Gates sought to doctor financial records. Nevertheless, she wrote an email to loan officers saying the income would be received by November of that year.

As with earlier witnesses, the subject of Manafort's spending irritated the judge, who told prosecutors: "You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he signed tax documents to show he knowingly didn't represent his true income".

The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

The trial in federal court in Alexandria is the first arising from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 US election.

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None of the charges that Mr Manafort faces at trial relate to the investigation into possible collusion in 2016 between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

"He is completely outraged by the way Manafort has been treated, with the solitary confinement and all of that", Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani told The Post.

Prosecutors then asked Laporta how she felt about her behavior.

In other words, Laporta said, Manafort's comments to the bank about how the property was being used were "inconsistent" with what was on his tax return.

That wrench could come next week in the form of testimony from Manafort's former business partner and right-hand man, Rick Gates.

The defense in the case is likely to subject Gates to an intensive cross-examination after arguing during opening statements that he embezzled millions of dollars from Manafort and then turned against him under pressure from Mueller.

Manafort is now fighting in court charges of 18 financial crimes, including submitting false income tax returns to the IRS.

And if Manafort did indeed open those accounts, that inherently means he knew they existed - and that he failed to report them to his tax preparers. Asonye asked. Ayliff said no. The indictment says he and Gates moved money from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to hide it from the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Ayliff said if Pernova Holdings was controlled by Mr. Manafort the money would be counted as income and, therefore, taxable. "Not sure where that leaves us".

Prosecutors pivoted midweek from what Manafort bought and how he bought it to what they see as his efforts to avoid paying taxes when things were good and lying to banks about his income when things went south.

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