Star witness Gates testifies he committed crimes with Manafort

Cheryl Sanders
August 7, 2018

Rick Gates, a longtime business associate of President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, has testified that he helped Mr Manafort file false tax returns and hide his foreign bank accounts.

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates testified today that he committed crimes with Manafort.

Prosecutors will turn to Gates for first-hand support of their accusations that Manafort concealed millions of dollars in foreign income and later lied when he applied for bank loans.

Manafort has a second trial scheduled for September involving allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the United States government.

Prosecutors first presented an email in which Manafort told Gates that he would claim his home in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan as a second residence (even though it was a rental property) when applying for a loan at Citizens' Bank.

Speaking at Manafort's trial late that afternoon, Gates bluntly answered the prosecutor's questions.


In his plea deal, Gates admitted to lying to investigators a number of times, and on Monday he admitted to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort's company, in the form of falsified expense reports.

The defendant's lawyers say Rick Gates embezzled millions of dollars from Mr Manafort's consulting firm.

The jury heard testimony on Friday and Monday from accountant Cynthia Laporta, who described how Manafort and Gates doctored financial statements and backdated loans.

"We didn't report the income or the foreign bank accounts", Gates told jurors, noting that he knew he and Manafort were committing crimes each time.

Manafort, facing charges of bank and tax fraud related to his work in Ukraine, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The criminal case has nothing to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer. The testimony came in a trial that started last week, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team, that charges Manafort hid $30 million earned for work in Ukraine.


When Andres tried to elicit testimony about the oligarchs' backgrounds and why they paid Manafort millions of dollars for his political advice, Ellis urged Andres to "go to the heart of the matter". When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference previous year, Manafort's questionable lobbying work - the sort of activity that has historically rarely been investigated in Washington - was put under a microscope, exposing him and his associates.

Under the deal, Gates can face up to 10 years in prison with sentencing guidelines of 57 months to 71 months and prosecutors agreed to allow his attorney to seek a probationary sentence.

Gates testified that Manafort told him to report overseas income as loans to lower Manafort's taxable income, supporting the testimony of his accountant. Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge.

But Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Manafort, legal experts said.

Notably, after urging prosecutors to speed things along as jurors heard from 14 witnesses last week, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said late on August 3 that Downing could begin his questioning of Laporta on Monday and wouldn't rush him.

Under cross examination on Monday, defence attorney Kevin Downing attempted to show that Gates was the point person in dealing with the accountants.


Laporta said she had grown to distrust the information Gates was providing her, though she didn't know about the embezzlement.

Other reports by iNewsToday

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