Paul Manafort, the imprisoned former chairman of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, pleaded not guilty Thursday to New York state mortgage fraud charges that could keep him locked up even if Trump pardons him for federal crimes uncovered during the probe of Russian election meddling, the AP reports. He is serving a 7½-year prison sentence for misleading the US government about his lucrative foreign lobbying work, hiding millions of dollars from tax authorities, and encouraging witnesses to lie on his behalf. Manafort's lawyer said he intends to challenge the state case under New York's strong double jeopardy protections, which bar prosecutors from bringing state charges if a person has received a presidential pardon for federal charges stemming from the same conduct. "In our views, the laws of New York do not allow the people to do what they did in this case," Manafort's lawyer Todd Blanche told reporters after Manafort's arraignment.
Manafort, in a blue jail uniform and handcuffs, walked with a limp as court officers led him down a public hall to and from the courtroom. Or, as the New York Daily News put it, a "cuffed and bedraggled" Manafort was "dragged" into the courtroom. The Raw Story goes with "tired and worn with shaggy hair" to describe Manafort, and notes that he was heckled on his way in. Manafort, 70, remained seated as he entered his plea and had to be helped out of his chair when taken out of the courtroom. He used a wheelchair at his last federal sentencing in March because of gout. He is due back in court in the state case on Oct. 9. His lawyers asked if he could skip all pretrial hearings, but Judge Maxwell Wiley said he will decide that on a hearing-by-hearing basis. Some of the alleged conduct described in the New York indictment echoes the charges and testimony in Manafort's federal cases. But Manhattan prosecutors contend their case is safe from a double-jeopardy challenge because mortgage fraud and falsifying business records are state crimes, but not federal crimes.
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