Manafort trial day 4: Accountant concedes possible wrongdoing, Manafort's double life

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Manafort's attorneys have sought to pin any illegal conduct on longtime Manafort deputy, Rick Gates.

Laporta also told prosecutors she "very much" regrets filing Manafort's tax returns. After the bank expressed reservations about the size of Manafort's debt, Gates sent her documentation showing the $1.5 million loan had been forgiven.

Ms. LaPorta testified she didn't pushback against Mr. Manafort because she feared initiating a legal fight with Mr. Manfaort or upsetting one of the firm's most important clients.

Prosecutors then asked Laporta how she felt about this decision. "We can't pick and choose what's a loan and what's income". That could change if Laporta's credibility is undermined on cross, the person said. Rather, she said, she could only print a PDF version and scan it before emailing it to Gates.

One Republican who is in frequent contact with the president, told Sherman that "the Manafort trial is spinning him into a frenzy".

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III asked Laporta about her understanding of the forgiven loan.

"Did you believe those representations?" In any given year, it's around $400,000, she said.

Laporta's testimony was part of a high-stakes criminal trial against Manafort after prosecutors working for the special counsel Robert Mueller charged him with tax and bank fraud, conspiracy, failure to register as a foreign agent, and obstruction of justice.

Gates, who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller, is expected to testify as the prosecution's star witness.

Most of the email evidence introduced Friday implicated Gates more directly than Manafort in a scheme to convert income into loans. And if Manafort was actively trying to circumvent lending laws, he wouldn't send emails to his accountant and bookkeeper about it.

In order for a jury to convict Manafort, Laporta's credibility must hold up. The charges against Manafort are not related to collusion or the Trump campaign.

"The real fireworks are going to come when Mr. Gates is on the stand and is crossed", said J. D. Evans, a retired attorney from Virginia who attended the trial last week.

The defense has argued that even if Manafort did direct the effort to inflate his income on his loan applications, it doesn't prove that he willfully broke the law.

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But when prosecutor Greg Andres read off some of the companies, Washkuhn said Manafort never told her about them.

A statue adorns the front of the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018 in Alexandria, Va., where President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is on trial facing federal charges of tax evasion and bank fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his trial is the first arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 USA election.

Jail mugshot of former Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. That investigation remains ongoing, and this week's financial fraud trial is not tied to collusion.

Gates was initially a codefendant until he pleaded guilty to two counts related to conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in February.

Some of the maneuvers were at the request of Gates, while others implicated Manafort, Laporta testified.

No. 3 Senate GOP leader John Thune of South Dakota said, "The idea that they should truncate it doesn't make sense to me". Or, as a second option, she "could call Rick Gates and Paul Manafort liars".

In some ways, Laporta's testimony mirrored that given by Philip Ayliff and Heather Washkuhn - Manafort's former CPA and bookkeeper, respectively. Classifying the property as a personal residence would have made it easier to obtain the mortgage at a low rate. Ayliff used those forms to prepare Manafort's tax returns. "Not sure where that leaves us".

Gates will likely be asked about whether he helped his boss move money overseas and hide those accounts.

Recall that according to US investigators, a former lobbyist of the Party of regions by Paul Manafort earned more than $60 million as a political consultant in Ukraine.

As mentioned, prosecutors say they hope to rest their case this week.

Jurors also saw on each tax return that Manafort answered "None" to the question of whether he had foreign accounts.

The trial is the first in Mueller's probe into Russian election interference, which the president has long claimed is rigged against him and is a "witch hunt".

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