Benjamin Berkowitz

Paul Manafort Could Be Moved to NYC This Month, Possibly Rikers, for State Fraud Case: Officials

A 16-count indictment was unsealed in New York against the ex-Trump campaign chairman in March minutes after his federal sentence was imposed

What to Know

  • Paul Manafort was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in March in two related federal bank fraud, tax and conspiracy cases
  • Minutes later, a 16-count indictment on state mortgage fraud charges was unsealed against Manafort, Trump's ex-campaign manager, in New York
  • The new case appeared designed at least in part to protect against a possible Trump pardon, which would cover federal but not state crimes

Paul Manafort, the former President Trump campaign manager currently serving a federal prison sentence in Pennsylvania, could be moved to New York City this month to face state fraud charges, officials familiar with the case said Tuesday. Manafort could be held in a jail like Rikers for the duration of the state mortgage fraud case, but no final decision has been reached, the officials said.

The 70-year-old Manafort could be housed in any of several New York City facilities, including a special housing area in Rikers to protect the high-profile, aging former presidential campaign chairman. He could also be housed at Bellevue if he has any medical issues. "The Tombs," a jail next to the Manhattan criminal court building, is yet another option, officials familiar with the case said.

Some reports said Manafort could be placed in "solitary confinement." City officials said that is not correct as solitary is punitive in New York with 23-hour-a-day lock down. A special, more secure housing unit with phone and recreational options would be a possibility for a high-profile inmate like Manafort, one official said.

A spokesman for the Department of Correction said Tuesday that Manafort is not yet in custody in New York. New York court spokesman Lucien Chalfen said the judge has not yet set a court date for Manafort's arraignment on the state charges. A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals declined to comment on whether a transfer was being planned for Manafort later this month. The Manhattan district attorney's office also declined comment Tuesday. 

When asked about the prospect of Manafort being moved to the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would be treated "like any other inmate, and would have the same rights and responsibilities." The mayor also noted there are "safety questions that have to be attended to."

The state fraud charges were unsealed in a 16-count indictment minutes after Manafort was sentenced in March to seven and a half years in prison following convictions in two related federal bank fraud, tax and conspiracy cases. The new case appeared designed at least in part to protect against a possible pardon from Trump, since presidential pardons apply to federal but not state crimes. 

Officials said it is up to the federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals and Manhattan district attorney to work out details of any planned transfer of a federal inmate to state custody. Any decision on Manafort’s detention in New York would be made by the city correction officials after his initial court appearance, officials said, which has yet to be scheduled.

Manafort's lawyer Todd Blanche said he expects his client to be arraigned soon, but isn't sure where he would be held in the city. Blanche's request to keep Manafort at the prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania — where he's closer to family and has access to good medical care — was rejected by the Manhattan district attorney, but still could be granted by the judge in the case.

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