City native Manafort faces 12 counts in federal indictment

Published on Monday, 30 October 2017 22:22
Written by Skyler Frazer

Staff Writer

New Britain native Paul Manafort Jr., President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, surrendered to the FBI on Monday after being named in a federal indictment.

The indictment of Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, unsealed Monday morning, contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Manafort’s indictment doesn’t refer to the Trump campaign or allege coordination between Russia and the president’s aides to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The indictment does allege that a criminal conspiracy continued through February of this year, after Trump had taken office.

Manafort and Gates appeared in federal court in Washington on Monday and pleaded not guilty to all charges. Both were released to home confinement. Manafort was freed on a $10 million bond. Gates’ bond was $5 million.

“This indictment is a sober, shattering moment and a major step toward answers and accountability for the American people. The president now owes the American people a serious explanation of his decision to hire Manafort and his own knowledge of this conspiracy,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.. “As this investigation moves forward into its next critical stage, Special Counsel Mueller must be protected against any political interference. The Senate Judiciary Committee must move forward with public hearings, and witnesses under oath to examine the full extent of Russian interference in our elections and how the Trump Administration may have thwarted the work of the FBI.”

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., also responded to the news.

“The American people deserve to know the truth about Russia’s attack on our democratic institutions,” Esty tweeted on Monday. “The independence of the Mueller investigation is of paramount importance and must be maintained.”

Manafort was born and brought up in New Britain and is the son of businessman and local politician Paul Manafort Sr., who served as mayor from 1965 to 1971 and as an alderman before that.

“Mayor Manafort, who passed away back in 2013 at the age of 89, did a lot of wonderful things for our community and it’s unfortunate that his good work is now being overshadowed,” said David Huck, Mayor Erin Stewart’s public affairs specialist.

Paul Manafort Jr.’s grandfather came to the U.S. from Italy in 1919 and founded Plainville construction company Manafort Brothers Inc., which is still family owned and operated.

Plainville Town Manager Robert E. Lee said he had no comment on the indictment.

“As far as I know, while he may have a connection to the family, there is no connection to our local business,” Lee said. “I’m not aware if he is involved with it at all.”

Manafort Brothers, at 414 New Britain Ave., is one of Plainville’s top 10 taxpayers.

“As an individual, he’s a guy who you thought would be successful,” said former Mayor Don DeFronzo, who said he wasn’t close with the former Trump campaign chairman but went to high school with him.

DeFronzo, now a political science professor at Central Connecticut State University, called the charges very serious, even if they do not connect Trump to Russia.

“This does establish a clear link between Manafort and Russian interests,” DeFronzo told The Herald.

After a long career in the political arena, Manafort was appointed campaign manager to Trump in April 2016, a post he held until a few months before the election. He resigned after being accused of lobbying for Russian interests without registering as a foreign agent.

In March, The Associated Press reported that there was evidence Manafort had received millions of dollars in payments from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire and political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, “to develop a multi-faceted strategic plan to promote Russian national interests in the U.S., in Ukraine and Central Asia and Eastern Europe.”

In April, a group of protesters gathered at the corner of Fenn Road and the Route 9 off-ramp - near Paul Manafort Drive, a road dedicated to his father in 1994 demanding U.S. leaders launch an investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager. The group consisted mostly of members of the recently formed Ukrainian Americans for Compassion, Truth and Transparency group.

In July, Manafort was summoned before the Senate Judiciary Committee for questioning about the government’s enforcement of a law requiring registration of foreign lobbyists and his involvement in a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower that included Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who also is a senior White House official. The former campaign manager provided congressional investigators notes he took during the meeting.

Associated Press reports were included in this story.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, New Britain, Nation-World on Monday, 30 October 2017 22:22. Updated: Monday, 30 October 2017 22:25.