An accountant for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort admitted at Manafort's tax- and bank-fraud trial Friday that she filed tax returns she thought contained false information and that she may have committed a crime in doing so.
Cynthia Laporta, who prepared Manafort's tax returns starting in 2014, told a jury in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, that she was testifying under an immunity agreement with the government to avoid being prosecuted as Manafort was charged with bank fraud and tax fraud. While Manafort's case isn't about the 2016 campaign, he's the first defendant Mueller's team has taken to trial, and the outcome could affect public opinion of the special counsel investigation the president has called a "witch hunt". At one point, prosecutor Uzo Asonye said it was possible the star witness in the case, Manafort's former right-hand man Rick Gates, may not be needed to testify, although that was met with some skepticism in the courtroom.
Generally, both prosecutors and defense during a trial can attempt to curtail the opposite sides' arguments by asking the judge to decide whether he will allow certain types of evidence to be presented to the jury. Later, they say, when that income dwindled, Manafort launched a different scheme, shoring up his struggling finances by using doctored documents to obtain millions more in bank loans. Ayliff testified Thursday that although Manafort was provided an outlet to disclose foreign bank accounts, he did not do so. After a back-and-forth discussion about how much income should be reclassified as a loan to aid Manafort, they settled on $900,000, she testified.
He said that if convicted on all counts, Manafort - who is 69 - will likely die in prison: "The left thinks that's just fine - Manafort ran Donald Trump's presidential campaign [and] they believe he deserves to die for that". She said Gates told her he was handling the documentation even though he knew the loans were phony.
Gates has pled guilty to several charges that Mueller brought against him, and he's cooperating with the Mueller probe. Still, Trump has made clear his interest in the case, suggesting in a tweet that Manafort was being treated worse than gangster Al Capone. "But Manafort might still offer a great deal of help for Mueller, for instance, discussing the history of financial back-and-forth between Trump and Russian Federation".
In August 2016, Manafort asked LaPorta to create a profit and loss statement for his consulting firm showing that he would receive $2.4 million in November 2016 for consulting work in Ukraine.
The trial in northern Virginia is the first of two for Manafort.
The bookkeeper, Heather Washkuhn, said Manafort provided a financial statement to a bank claiming his company earned $3 million in the first nine months of 2016, when the company had actually lost more than $1 million in the first 11 months, according to CNN.
Manafort is now fighting in court charges of 18 financial crimes, including submitting false income tax returns to the IRS. And a series of businessmen said he used worldwide wire transfers to pay for millions of dollars in luxury items. But later she emailed Federal Savings Bank and said Mr. Manafort was expected the funds at his direction. Jurors are expected to hear testimony Friday that Manafort never told his tax accountants about offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars. Manafort is accused of conspiracy to evade US taxes and banking laws. A second trial is scheduled for September in the District of Columbia.
They said they are alleging that Manafort controlled "17 domestic entities, 12 Cypriot entities, and three other foreign entities, and he "caused over 200 wires to be sent from those entities to domestic bank accounts, entities, or vendors". That case involves allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the US government.