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Ex-Manafort Associate Gets Out Of Probation 2 Years Early

By Khorri Atkinson · May 19, 2020, 10:13 PM EDT

A D.C. federal judge ruled on Tuesday that a consultant who pled guilty to concealing his work as a foreign agent for a pro-Russian political group and had ties to convicted former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort will be released from probation two years early.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted Sam Patten's motion for early termination of probation amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, more than a year after she sentenced him to three years of probation, a $5,000 fine and 500 hours of community service.

With the backing of federal prosecutors, Schertler & Onorato LLP partner Stuart Sears, who is representing Patten, told Judge Jackson earlier this month that his client has "demonstrated through his conduct that he is not in need of further supervision." Due to the "strains posed by the COVID-19 pandemic across the criminal justice system, the interests of justice are better served by the termination of the remaining period of probation," the attorneys added.

Sears did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Judge Jackson's order.

Patten pled guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a foreign agent and admitted to obstructing Congress by withholding documents from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January 2018.

He initially faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but federal prosecutors asked Judge Jackson for a more lenient punishment due to his "substantial assistance" in former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A criminal information lodged by D.C. federal prosecutors said that between 2014 and 2018 Patten acted as an agent for the Opposition Bloc, a pro-Russian political party based in Ukraine for which Manafort also worked, without registering with American authorities.

From spring 2015 through 2017, a company that Patten formed was paid more than $1 million by the Opposition Bloc, the charging document says. The income was derived from work that violates the Foreign Agents Registration Act, it says.

The charges also referred to unnamed influential Russian and Ukrainian nationals involved in Patten's consulting work. They are believed to be former Russian intelligence official Konstantin Kilimnik, who faces criminal charges of witness tampering in another Mueller prosecution, and Ukrainian oligarch Serhiy Lyovochkin, the former chief of staff to exiled pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Prosecutors also said that Patten concealed a $50,000 payment through a straw company that allowed the two foreigners named in the information to circumvent laws prohibiting foreign campaign donations and attend a Trump inauguration event.

Under his deal with Mueller's team, Patten was prepared to testify in Manafort's second criminal trial in D.C. federal court about the former Trump campaign manager's work in Ukraine for the Opposition Bloc and other related matters. He provided documentary evidence that was ultimately not needed because Manafort pled guilty to the unregistered foreign agent charge, prosecutors said.

Sears told Judge Jackson earlier this month that his client has already completed community service and paid the fine. And in a reply brief last week supporting Patten's request, the government said he has complied with all the terms of his probation and met with prosecutors to answer questions for about 2½ hours regarding ongoing investigations.

"The government investigators assess that the defendant did not appear evasive or deceitful, appeared to answer all the questions put to him to the best of his ability, and admitted to a lack of knowledge or memory when appropriate," prosecutors wrote. "The government views the defendant's debrief as being helpful to ongoing investigation."

The termination of Patten's probation came days after the Federal Bureau of Prisons released Manafort from prison to serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement amid COVID-19 concerns. Manafort, 71, was sentenced to a total of 7½ years in prison from two separate convictions — in D.C. for obstruction and unsanctioned lobbying work, and in Virginia for bank and tax fraud. He had been slated to be released from federal prison in November 2024.

Patten is represented by Stuart Sears of Schertler & Onorato LLP.

The government is represented by Thomas Gillice, Michael DiLorenzo and Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

The case is U.S. v. Patten, case number 1:18-cr-00260, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

--Additional reporting by Pete Brush and Reenat Sinay. Editing by Nicole Bleier.

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