Manafort Bookkeeper Says He OK'd 'Every Penny'; Gates on Witness List

Manafort Bookkeeper Says He OK'd 'Every Penny'; Gates on Witness List

And at the end of the day Friday, an accountant named Cindy Laporta testified, under an immunity deal with prosecutors, that she had concerns when she helped Manafort apply for a bank loan that information he provided her was false. Gates became upset when Washkuhn said she couldn't sent him pdf documents as Microsoft Word files, which are more easily altered, she testified. Defense lawyers have painted Gates as an untrustworthy business partner who embezzled funds from Manafort's consulting firm. In one email, shortly before Manafort left the campaign, Manafort emailed LaPorta about a document he was submitting for a loan application that prosecutors say falsely inflated his income. Laporta said she later regretted her actions but at the time didn't want to risk losing a lucrative client. "But Mr. Manafort was a longtime client of the firm, and I didn't think I should do that".

Manafort is charged with 18 counts of conspiracy, tax and bank fraud.

Gates pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on "all matters" they deem relevant.

The jury also heard from several money managers contracted to keep tabs on Manafort's cash flow. Other financial records showed that Mr. Manafort's company, DMP International, finished 2016 almost $1.2 million in debt.

Some legal analysts said Wednesday's tweet alone was not enough to bring an obstruction of justice charge, but it could be used to establish a pattern of conduct revealing Mr Trump's intentions. If Manafort is acquitted, they will indeed say that it doesn't prove much of anything about the broader Russian Federation investigation, because the investigation goes far beyond Manfort. "We can't pick and choose what's a loan and what's income".

Laporta testified that it was one of several times she accepted questionable financial statements pressed on her by Gates or Manafort, including some involving other loans prosecutors say were shams to hide income.

Manafort faces charges of bank fraud and tax evasion that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.

The trial is the first stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 14-month investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 US presidential election and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, though none of the charges against Manafort involve this alleged collusion.


Mr Manafort took over as chairman of the Trump campaign in May 2016 and aimed to present a more thoughtful candidate, who stuck to scripts instead of ad-libbing in campaign rallies. That investigation remains ongoing, and this week's financial fraud trial is not tied to collusion. When prosecutors asked her why she went along with what she knew to be wrong, she said because she "had two options".

As part of his guilty plea, Gates acknowledged routinely dealing with accountants in the preparation of Manafort's tax returns and misleading them with false information, although he said he did so with Manafort's knowledge.

In fact, Manafort served 144 days as Trump's campaign chairman.

Some of the maneuvers were at the request of Gates, while others implicated Manafort, Laporta testified. On Tuesday, Manafort's former bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn also testified that Manafort lied about his income to banks. Classifying the property as a personal residence would have made it easier to obtain the mortgage at a low rate.

The most significant moment on Friday, however, came when assistant U.S. attorney Uzo Asonye asked Laporta to describe a conference call in September 2015.

Manafort's attorneys do not seem to have scored a lot of points on cross-examination, Futterman said, but added that the witnesses who have testified so far are not "the main targets".

That same day, Ellis interrupted a Virginia contractor's description of a landscaping job at the home of Manafort's daughter that cost more than $100,000, and began asking his own questions.

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