New York Judge Maxwell Wiley ruled that state law precludes prosecution, because the case state prosecutors brought forward was too similar to one that led to convictions against Manafort.
“The law of double jeopardy in New York state,” he said, “provides very narrow exceptions for prosecution. The indictment is dismissed.”
Prosecutors accused Manafort of mortgage fraud, admitting earlier in the year that the charge was similar.
“The People’s prosecution is exactly the type of prosecution that New York’s double jeopardy statute explicitly permits: a successive prosecution where the harms caused to New York were not redressed by the prior prosecution,” they wrote in court papers filed in October.
Todd Blanche, Manafort’s attorney, who had argued that the case should be dropped because of double jeopardy laws, said in a statement after Wiley’s ruling: “We have said since the day this indictment was made public that it was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law.”
“We thank Judge Wiley for his careful consideration of our motion and his thoughtful opinion dismissing the charges against Mr. Manafort,” he added. “This indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions.”
Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. vowed to appeal the decision.
“We will appeal today’s decision and will continue working to ensure that Mr. Manafort is held accountable for the criminal conduct against the People of New York that is alleged in the indictment,” a spokesman for the office said in a statement sent to media outlets.
The dismissal came a day after Manafort’s former deputy, Rick Gates, was sentenced to 45 days in prison.
Manafort, 70, was in the hospital this week after suffering a cardiac event in a Pennsylvania prison.
Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison on March 7 and another 43 months about a week later, adding up to seven and a half years. He’s been serving time at U.S. Penitentiary–Canaan in Canaan Township, near Scranton, Pennsylvania. Manafort is slated to be released in Dec. 2024.
He was scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 18 for the New York case but couldn’t attend due to the health issues.