A judge in New York on Wednesday dismissed charges against Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, dealing a blow to purported efforts by the Manhattan district attorney to ensure that Manafort faces prison time should his former boss pardon him for his federal crimes.
The longtime Republican operative had been charged in Manhattan with mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other state felonies. But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley dismissed the indictment, saying the charges violated the state's double-jeopardy laws, which state that a defendant may not be tried twice for the same crimes.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., brought the charges against Manafort in March, shortly after the former Trump staffer was sentenced in federal court for conspiracy, tax and bank fraud in a pair of cases brought by the former special counsel Robert Mueller.
The 16-count indictment Vance obtained from a state grand jury accused Manafort of financial crimes and falsifying records to obtain millions of dollars in loans. The case stemmed from an investigation originating in 2017, when Manhattan prosecutors began to scrutinize loans Manafort had received from two banks. Vance's office accused Manafort of defrauding Citizen Bank and Federal Savings Bank in order to obtain loans for properties he owned in New York and Long Island.
Manafort's legal team argued that the state charges should be dismissed, because their client was indicted earlier this year for similar types of crimes.
The ex-Trump campaign chairman did not appear in court on Wednesday. He has been hospitalized since last week after suffering a heart ailment as he serves a 7.5-years federal prison sentence.
Vance's office said it plans to challenge the judge's ruling.
"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,” Manhattan district attorney spokesman Danny Frost said in a statement following the ruling.
Manafort's attorney, Todd Blanche, praised the ruling as a "stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions." He argued that the indictment was "politically motivated and violated New York's statutory double jeopardy law."