Star witness ends testimony in fraud trial of ex-Trump campaign chief

10 August, 2018, 05:43 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • A courtroom sketch depicts Rick Gates on the witness stand testifying at Paul Manafort’s trial Tuesday

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, a 78-year-old jurist with a reputation for being tough on lawyers in his courtroom, showed none of the temper he's flashed throughout the trial, now in its second week in Alexandria, Va., and instead instructed the jury to disregard his remarks made the day before excoriating prosecutors for allowing an expert government witness to sit in the courtroom before he testified.

The judge's comments came in response to a written filing by prosecutors on the eighth day of Manafort's trial on charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.

Between 2010 and 2014, more than $15.6 million flowed from foreign accounts to Manafort vendors and the purchase of real estate in Virginia and New York, Magionos said. A bookkeeper said she helped disguise foreign income as a loan to reduce Manafort's tax burden.

Gates said that relationship lasted five months and that he told his wife and Manafort about it. "I'm not very patient, so don't try my patience", Ellis said.

Gates testified that Manafort asked him to float Calk, who was on Trump's economic advisory council, for Secretary of the Army.

The prosecution's case against Manafort doesn't rest exclusively on Gates.

"Let me clear, I don't care what the transcript said ... don't do it again", he barked, with jurors looking on.

Downing's smear of Gates may not matter if jurors think the documentary and email evidence prosecutors presented lines up with Gates' testimony.

Downing accused Gates of using the funds he admitted to stealing from Manafort to pay for a lavish lifestyle that included a London apartment and travel funds to finance one of his extramarital affairs.

The sidebar conversation - which the court's stenographer could hear, but which Gates, the jury and reporters in the room could not - came after Manafort attorney Kevin Downingasked Gates if he'd spoken to the special counsel's team about his time at the Trump campaign.

Gates has been the government's star witness in Manafort's financial fraud trial, testifying how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped hide millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents. Downing asked Gates whether he had told prosecutors that he had four extramarital affairs.




He is the first subject of special counsel Robert S. Mueller's investigation to stand trial.

Gates, who was indicted along with Manafort, pleaded guilty and is cooperating with an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Both Manafort and Gates were indicted a year ago on charges of bank and tax fraud as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. They also need to prove he did so with intent and not by mistake.

"He always had control over the accounts", Gates said of Manafort, and the income was not reported to his bookkeepers, his accountants or the U.S. tax authorities. Downing had said he wanted to ask the question because it spoke to whether Gates had lied to Mueller's office, and whether Gates' plea agreement would still be valid.

He scoffed at the idea Mr Gates had repented for his actions, noting that prosecutors have said they won't oppose his bid for probation and getting him to acknowledge he had not repaid the money he had taken from Mr Manafort.

Ellis had repeatedly chided prosecutors, both in front of the jury and out of their hearing, during the trial.

Gates admitted to cheating on his wife about 10 years ago, but denied using company money to fund his affair, even as Downing sarcastically noted the apartment Gates kept in the United Kingdom: "A flat?"

Manafort was chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and his longtime deputy was part of the campaign, too.

Manafort's defense attorneys have sought to paint Gates as an embezzler, a liar and the instigator of any criminal conduct.

Under questioning by prosecutor Greg Andres, Gates walked the six-man, six-woman jury through the foreign bank accounts used by Manafort to receive payments from Ukrainian politicians - money that was not reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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