Court filing: Manafort faces 19 years in prison
WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort, the one-time chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, could spend more than 19 years in prison on tax and bank fraud charges, according to court papers filed Friday.
Documents filed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office reveal that Manafort faces the lengthiest prison term imposed in the Russia investigation if a federal judge agrees to it. It would also place the 69-year-old Manafort at serious risk of spending the rest of his life in prison.
The potential sentence stems from Manafort’s conviction last year on eight felony charges that accused him of carrying out an elaborate scheme to conceal from tax authorities the millions of dollars he earned overseas from Ukrainian political consulting. It is one of two criminal cases pending against him in which he faces prison time.
Though Mueller’s office did not recommend a precise sentence, prosecutors said they agreed with a calculation by federal probation officials that his crimes deserve a punishment of between 19 and 24 years.
They also lay out in great detail for U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III how they say Manafort’s greed drove him to disregard American law.
“In the end, Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars,” the prosecutors wrote. “The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.”
Manafort has been jailed for months as he awaits his formal sentencing. His lawyers have said the incarceration has created a mental and physical strain on Manafort, who has recently used a wheelchair in court appearances.
But Mueller’s team made clear that Manafort’s age should not be a consideration, nor does it eliminate the risk that he could still commit new crimes. Prosecutors note that “his pattern of criminal activity” lasted more than a decade, that he conspired to tamper with witnesses despite facing indictments in two different districts and that he repeatedly lied to the government and to a grand jury even after he agreed to cooperate and plead guilty.
“Nothing about the defendant’s age is unusual,” they wrote. “Tax offenders are often older and often, like the defendant, wealthy, but they nonetheless receive substantial terms of incarceration notwithstanding age and health issues.”
Prosecutors often acknowledge mitigating factors that a judge may consider on a defendant’s behalf in favor of a more lenient sentence. But none exist here, prosecutors said. They argued that Manafort deserved a sentencing enhancement reserved for defendants who lead or organize others in criminal activity.
Girls basketball: Hudson’s Bay 53, Kelso 37
Aniyah Hampton scored a game-high 26 points including 12 in the fourth quarter as the Eagles stayed alive in the 3A bi-district tournament with the win over Kelso at Lower Columbia College in Longview.
Hudson’s Bay (18-6) won its second loser-out game and advances to the fifth-place game at noon Saturday for a spot in the 3A state tournament. The Eagles will face either Capital or North Thurston at Rogers High School in Puyallup.
Being familiar with Kelso (13-10) helped the Eagles to their third win over the Highlanders this season.
And some solid defense.
“Holding them without a field goal in the second quarter was big for us,” Hudson’s Bay coach Michael Rainville said. “It’s really hard to beat a good team three times, but we knew who we were playing and our girls really wanted to win.”
Jaydia Martin and Kamelai Powell each added 10 points along with solid rebounding efforts for Hudson’s Bay.
HUDSON’S BAY 53, KELSO 37
HUDSON’S BAY (18-6) — Gabriela Garcia 0, Juliann Medrano 0, Mae Carse 0, Shelby DeLong 0, Sadie Soumakil 0, Maria Mendez 3, Jaydia Martin 10, Mae Carse, Xena Le 0, Aniyah Hampton 26, Kamelai Powell 10, Anastacia Mikaele 4, Lose’ Tamo’ua 0. Totals 18 (1) 16-22 53.
KELSO (13-10) — Natalie Frey 8, Tally Connors 0, Alexis Kieven 6, Cooper Joy 0, Erin Tack 7, Alexandra Harman 1, Evermore Kaiser 0, Mati Ohlson 0, Cayla Gutenberg 0, Capri Franzen 3, Kylee Gibbs 12, Megan Skeels 0. Totals 13 (2) 9-13 37.
Hudson’s Bay 12 14 13 16–53
Kelso 9 5 11 12–37
No. 3 Oregon women beat No. 9 Oregon State 77-68
EUGENE, Ore. — Sabrina Ionescu had 29 points and nine assists, and No. 3 Oregon beat No. 9 Oregon State 77-68 Friday night for its 17th straight win.
Ruthy Hebard added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Ducks (24-1, 13-0 Pac-12), who have the longest active winning streak in the nation. Oregon improved to 6-0 against ranked teams this season.
Destiny Slocum had 19 points for Oregon State, which trailed 39-35 at the half. The Beavers (20-5, 10-3) pulled to 64-60 on Slocum’s jumper with 5:20 left but it was as close as they could get.
The in-state Civil War rivalry continues on Monday when the two teams meet in Corvallis.
The Ducks were coming off a decisive 88-48 win at then-No. 11 Stanford. The win snapped a 29-game losing streak for the Ducks at Maples Pavilion, and also snapped the Cardinal’s 22-game home winning streak.
The Beavers were coming off an 82-74 victory over Cal, but fell to Stanford 61-44 on the Northern California swing to drop two places in this week’s rankings.
Hebard hit consecutive layups to pull the Ducks up 18-13 in the opening quarter. She added a rebound basket that extended the lead to 25-18.
But Oregon State answered with a 12-2 run to pull in front 30-27. Ionescu hit a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer to regain the lead for the Ducks.
Oregon, which went into the game averaging a national-best 90.2 points a game, led 39-35 at the half, with Ionescu leading all scorers with 13 points, as well as seven assists. Aleah Goodman led the Beavers with 10 points at the break.
Ionescu’s 3-pointer gave Oregon a 49-40 lead in the third quarter. The reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week hit another 3 to put the Ducks up 56-46 going into the fourth quarter. The Ducks led by as many as 11 points in the final period.
The game was a sellout, just the second for the women at Matthew Knight Arena. The Ducks sold out the team’s first game at the arena, also against the Beavers, on Jan. 23, 2011.
Oregon State: The Beavers split last season’s two-game Civil War Series with the Ducks, with each team winning at home. … Oregon State is in the midst of a run with four Top 25 teams in five games: Then No 17 Utah, then No. 11 Stanford and the two games against the Ducks. … Pivec reached the 1,000 career points mark with a second-quarter layup.
Oregon: The Ducks, Baylor, Louisville, and Mississippi State were the No. 1 seeds in the first NCAA Top 16 reveal on Monday. If the seedings hold, Oregon would stay near home as the top team in Portland. Oregon State was a No. 3 seed. The NCAA will have one more reveal of the top 16 teams on March 4 before Selection Monday, which is on March 18.
The two teams meet again on Monday at Oregon State.
Lawmaker seeks restrictions on offender release
OLYMPIA — A lawmaker from the district holding the troubled Western State psychiatric hospital said Friday that measures before the Legislature would restrict what he described as the disproportionate placement of violent offenders in the area after release.
One of the bills would require violent offenders to be released in their home counties, while the other would restrict placement of some in less-restrictive adult family homes.
Sen. Steve O’Ban, a Republican from the district including much of Lakewood and Tacoma, said offenders ended up “dumped” in his district, sometimes in facilities near residential neighborhoods, and described the case of a man convicted of sexually assaulting children, who he said now lives in an adult family home near an area school.
“These individuals should have been, in my view, returned to their counties, where they were charged with their crimes,” O’Ban said. “Pierce County should not be the place where these individuals are automatically released.”
Family homes typically contain a handful of adults who live together in a home that is run like a household, under the supervision of trained staff. They are used to house adults who can’t live at home, but don’t need a more restrictive setting.
At the same time they are also used to transition patients from more restrictive institutions back into the community.
Freedom Nitschke also spoke at the Friday event, and said her father was killed by a violent offender who had been placed in the adult family home where he was housed.
Nitschke said the man bludgeoned her wheelchair-bound father, whom she described as “defenseless,” with a coffee mug.
But legal advocates told a Senate committee later in the day that banning some offenders from adult family homes would be unconstitutional.
Sonja Hardenbrook, who spoke on behalf of several organizations of public defenders and defense attorneys, said that would run contrary to due process obligations requiring the state to hold some offenders in the least restrictive facility available.
A representative for the state’s designated disability rights watchdog also voiced concerns over the proposal.
And Katie Ross said on behalf of the King County Department of Public Defense that spreading offenders around the state would make them harder to monitor.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services no longer oversees Western State, which is located in Lakewood. It cut the hospital’s certification and federal funding in June after finding safety issues that contributed to assault and escapes, including by patients hospitalized after being charged with such crimes as murder, rape, kidnapping and assault.
In addition to the network of psychiatric facilities for non-violent people that has been a proposal of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, O’Ban said the state should build government-run facilities to house violent offenders nearer to their counties of origin, even if counties resist.
New hearing ordered for man convicted of shooting trooper
SEATTLE — A state appeals court has ordered a new hearing to evaluate a man’s claims that he was wrongly convicted in the shooting of a Washington state trooper who later became a sheriff.
Martin Jones is serving a 50-year sentence after being convicted of shooting Scott Johnson in 2010 in Long Beach, a tourist town on the Southwest Washington coast. Johnson was elected sheriff after the shooting and served two terms before losing a re-election bid last fall.
Jones’ attorney, Lenell Nussbaum, requested a new trial two years ago, citing new evidence that included a sworn declaration from Peter Boer, a local drug dealer, that on the night of the shooting, his brother Nicholas, a repeat felon, confessed to it and asked him to dispose of gun parts. Several people had also called police to say that a composite sketch of the suspect that aired on television news closely resembled Nick Boer.
The lone witness to the shooting — a tow-truck driver — told police Jones wasn’t the culprit, but Johnson said he was.
On Thursday, a three-judge state Court of Appeals panel said a Superior Court judge should evaluate whether the new evidence is admissible in court, and if so, whether Jones’ conviction should be overturned. In a concurring opinion, one of the judges, Thomas Bjorgen, said the information presented in the appeal “tend to create a reasonable doubt as to Jones’s guilt.”
“The new evidence before us is of a highly compelling nature: among other matters an admission to the crime by another individual, multiple identifications of that individual from a composite sketch made from a description by a witness at the scene, and evidence that the same individual made serious threats against another if he was not given an alibi for the night of the shooting,” Bjorgen wrote.
Nussbaum called the ruling “a huge deal for Marty.”
“Our end goal has always been a new trial,” she said Friday. “What we’ve accomplished is a huge step in that direction.”
Snow plow drivers threatened; no charges
SPOKANE — Unusually heavy snow in the Spokane area has caused snow plow rage: Two plow drivers clearing streets this week were threatened by people infuriated when their driveways ended up blocked with mounds of snow.
In one incident, a man with a holstered handgun yelled obscenities at a plow driver and climbed onto the plow truck, trying to open a door, said Spokane County spokeswoman Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter.
And on Thursday morning, another man threatened to get a gun while ordering a plow driver not to block a driveway with snow from the street, Wheatley-Billeter said.
The man with the holstered gun was not charged by sheriff’s deputies because he had a permit to carry it and no charges were filed against the other man, said sheriff’s spokesman Mark Gregory.
Spokane has received 21 inches of snow since Feb. 1, making the first two weeks of February this year the seventh snowiest for that period since record-keeping began in 1893, the National Weather Service said. More snow was falling Friday.
People with driveways blocked by snow from plows should make complaints to county officials if they are upset, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said in a statement.
“There are proper ways to address the snow plow concerns and intimidation is not one of them,” he said.
The threats have prompted authorities to consider putting cameras on the snow plows, Wheatley-Billeter said.
“Hindering public employees from doing their jobs will not be tolerated,” said County Commissioner Mary Kuney.
The county’s plow drivers must clear about 2,500 miles of roads.
Hockinson, Ridgefield schools consider levies
Two Clark County school boards next week will consider putting school funding levies on an upcoming ballot, including one whose voters just rejected the same measures.
Hockinson and Ridgefield school districts’ school boards will consider placing educational program and operations levies on an upcoming ballot, and Hockinson will consider an additional technology levy.
Hockinson voters just rejected an operations levy, with 47.4 casting ballots in favor of the three-year replacement levy. Levies require a simple majority to pass. The district was seeking $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value, which the district said would maintain small class sizes, fund special education programs and support extracurricular activities.
Voters also said “no” to a technology levy, with 46 percent of votes favoring the three-year levy. The levy, which would have started in 2020, asked for about 40 cents per $1,000 in assessed value for technology improvements, safety upgrades and heating and cooling improvements.
Superintendent Sandra Yager said in January that if this latest batch of levies failed, the rural district could face budget cuts. There are about 2,000 students in the school district.
Hockinson did not release details of what its latest ask would entail, but under state law, local operations levies are capped at $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value.
Ridgefield’s proposed three-year levy would start in 2020, replacing the district’s existing levy. That measure, if approved, would also collect $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value from district property owners.
Ridgefield voters just rejected a school bond that would have paid for the construction of new facilities, but bonds and levies provide different streams of revenue for different expenses.
According to a news release, the district will use levy funds to pay for expenses that exceed what the state funds, including professional development for teachers, classroom support, extracurricular activities and early childhood education.
“The operations levy is vital to the successful operation of the district,” Superintendent Nathan McCann said in a district news release. “Renewal of levy funding ensures that we can continue to deliver the comprehensive, high-quality education expected by our students and families.”
Levies require a simple majority to pass.
The Ridgefield School District Board of Directors will meet 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center, 510 Pioneer St., Ridgefield. The Hockinson School District Board of Directors will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at district offices, 17912 N.E. 159th St., Brush Prairie.
Still Importing Steel Despite Tariff
WASHINGTON — Despite President Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade, his administration has granted hundreds of companies permission to import millions of tons of steel made in China, Japan and other countries without paying the hefty tariff he put in place to protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs, according to an Associated Press analysis.
The waivers from the import tax show how pliable his protectionist policies can be. Trump has positioned himself as an “America First” trade warrior, using tariffs as a club against countries he’s accused of playing unfairly. Although China has been the principal target of Trump’s ire, he also has criticized Japan and American allies in Europe.
“I love tariffs, but I also love them to negotiate,” Trump said Friday during a Rose Garden news conference.
Behind the scenes, however, his Commerce Department approved tariff exemption requests from 370 companies for up to 4.1 million tons of foreign steel, with roughly 8 percent of the total coming from China and close to 30 percent from Japan, according to AP’s review of thousands of applications for relief from the import tax on steel. Many recipients of the waivers are subsidiaries of foreign-owned businesses.
Although Trump has sought to rebuild America’s steel industry by curbing imports, tariffs are fraught with economic risk — a message that came through loud and clear in many of the waiver applications. Companies that use steel in their products warned the Commerce Department that the 25 percent tariff could do serious damage to their businesses.
The numbers also provide a window into a steel tariff exemption program that has vexed many applicants as well as lawmakers who’ve questioned the pace, transparency and fairness of the process. The flood of applications overwhelmed the system the department set up nearly a year ago to review them, and more than 38,000 requests still await rulings.
The Commerce Department has received waiver applications from 45 states and Puerto Rico, evidence of the geographic range of companies angling for exemptions.
Tioga Pipe in Philadelphia, which supplies a variety of industrial customers with pipe, fittings and flanges, received approval to import as much as 86,500 tons of Chinese steel duty free; that was the most of any company with approved waivers. Tioga did not return calls and emails seeking comment, but its applications indicate the material isn’t available from domestic suppliers in the sizes and shapes it needs.
DS Containers, a subsidiary of Japan’s Daiwa Can, makes aerosol and liquid pour cans at factories in Illinois using laminated tin-free steel that U.S. suppliers have shown no interest in manufacturing, CEO Bill Smith told the Commerce Department. Smith received the go-ahead to import up to 390,000 tons of the material from Japan, the Netherlands and United Kingdom. If the waivers had not been granted, Smith warned, DS Containers might have been forced to shut down production lines or lay off employees.
A 25 percent tariff “is a very heavy burden on any company,” Smith told AP last year.
The department declined interview requests. A spokesman said in an emailed statement that exemptions can be approved if the department determines the metal “is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality or should be excluded based upon specific national security considerations.”
Overall, the department has so far approved nearly 14,000 requests for exemption from the steel duty, with 59 percent of the total going to firms with a foreign corporate parent. Most of the waivers last for a year. More than 4,400 applications were denied.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who this month declared herself a Democratic candidate for president in 2020, told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in late October that giving exemptions to foreign-owned businesses “appears to be massive loophole.” The purpose of tariffs, she said, is to benefit U.S. manufacturing, not undermine it.
Warren said in a statement to AP that Trump “claims to be implementing trade policies that put America first, but here’s what the data show: this administration is handing out special tariff exemptions to foreign-owned companies at the expense of American companies.”
9/11 fund running out of money
NEW YORK — The compensation fund for victims of 9/11 is running out of money and will cut future payments by 50 to 70 percent, officials announced Friday.
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund special master Rupa Bhattacharyya said she was “painfully aware of the inequity of the situation” but stressed that awarding some funds for every valid claim would be preferable to sending some legitimate claimants away empty-handed. “I could not abide a plan that would at the end of the day leave some claimants uncompensated,” Bhattacharyya said.
Nearly 40,000 people have applied to the federal fund for people with illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pa., after the 2001 terror attacks there, and about 19,000 of those claims are pending. Nearly $5 billion in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.3 billion fund.
Bhattacharyya said fund officials estimate it would take another $5 billion to pay pending claims and the claims that officials anticipate will be submitted before the fund’s December 2020 deadline.
Absent that funding, officials determined that pending claims submitted by Feb. 1 would be paid at 50 percent of their prior value. Valid claims received after that date will be paid at just 30 percent.
Members of Congress responded to Friday’s announcement by vowing to reauthorize the compensation fund.
“This is devastating news to the thousands of sick and injured 9/11 responders and survivors who were promised, and have been counting on, being fully compensated for the losses they have suffered,” Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney and Republican Peter King said in a statement.
They said they would introduce legislation to make the compensation fund permanent and to compensate all legitimate claimants. “Our bill would restore any cuts to awards, ensure that future eligible recipients are fully compensated, and make the VCF program permanent,” the lawmakers said.
The Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, said the fund is supposed to provide “peace of mind to those sickened after the horrific attack.”
“For too many, ailments and disease from exposure to that toxic airborne brew have taken years to show up and — as the need for the fund grows — the chance it may not have adequate resources to take care of our heroes is just unacceptable,” Schumer said in a statement.
In the 17 years since, many have seen their health decline, some with respiratory or digestive-system ailments that appeared almost immediately, others with illnesses that developed as they aged, including cancer.
Will the 2020 census ask about citizenship?
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will decide whether the 2020 census can include a question about citizenship that could affect the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal money.
The justices agreed Friday to a speedy review of a lower court ruling that has so far blocked the Trump administration from adding the citizenship question to the census for the first time since 1950.
Both the administration and opponents of the question agreed the court should settle the matter quickly because census forms need to be printed soon.
Arguments will take place in late April. A decision should come by late June.
The case pits the administration against immigrant advocacy organizations and Democratic-led states, cities and counties that argue the citizenship question is intended to discourage the participation of minorities, primarily Hispanics, who tend to support Democrats from filling out census forms.
The challengers say they would get less federal money and fewer seats in Congress if the census asks about citizenship because people with noncitizens in their households would be less likely to fill out their census forms.
The Constitution requires a census count every 10 years. A question about citizenship had once been common, but it has not been asked of every household since 1950. At the moment, the question is part of a detailed annual sample of a small chunk of the population, the American Community Survey.
The case stems from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision in 2018 to add a citizenship question to the next census, over the advice of career officials at the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department. At the time, Ross said he was responding to a Justice Department request to ask about citizenship in order to improve enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York ruled in January that the question could not be included, saying that fewer people would respond to the census and that the process Ross used was faulty.