Lobbyist who cooperated in Russia probe asks for probation
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Washington political consultant initially ensnared in the special counsel’s Russia investigation is asking a federal judge to spare him from prison time for unregistered lobbying and participating in a foreign donation scheme involving President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee.
W. Samuel Patten, who faces up to five years in prison, argued in court papers filed Monday that he should receive probation in part for being a “reliable and valuable” cooperator with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and other ongoing probes. In separate court papers, prosecutors agreed that Patten provided “substantial assistance” to the government.
The government didn’t take a position on Patten’s punishment but said U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson should consider leniency during his sentencing set for Friday. Prosecutors said Patten was willing to be a witness in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and he provided information related to “other criminal investigations.”
The sentencing recommendations come as Mueller has wrapped his Russia investigation and as other federal prosecutors continue to probe whether foreigners illegally contributed to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
When Patten pleaded guilty last year, his case revealed that he had orchestrated a scheme to circumvent the federal ban on foreign donations to inaugural committees on behalf of a Ukrainian politician. Aware of the ban, Patten lined up an American straw purchaser to front $50,000 for four tickets to the inauguration for the politician, who court papers say had paid Patten’s company for the tickets using an account from Cyprus.
Patten later lied about the scheme to the Senate intelligence committee.
In arguing for leniency, Patten’s attorney, Stuart Sears, described Patten as a political consultant who advocated for American democracy abroad and was fiercely loyal to a fault.
Sears said there was no “political agenda or motive” behind Patten’s purchase of the inauguration tickets. He also was not part of a scheme to “funnel” foreign money to Trump’s campaign, Sears said, noting that Patten openly opposed Trump’s candidacy and didn’t vote for him.
“It was entirely a product of a wrong-headed effort to accommodate a client’s request,” Patten’s attorney wrote. The same was true for Patten’s actions that ran afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to the defense’s memo.
In his plea agreement, Patten admitted to violating the law by lobbying in the U.S. on behalf of the Opposition Bloc, a Ukrainian political party, without registering with the Justice Department.
Patten’s partner in that effort was Konstantin Kilimnik, a co-defendant of Manafort and a man that the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik, who has denied the ties, was indicted alongside Manafort on charges of witness tampering. He has not appeared in a U.S. court to face the charges and is believed to live in Russia.
The investigation into Patten’s lobbying initially stemmed from Mueller’s probe but his case was then referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
Read the sentencing memo: http://apne.ws/mOWLfWc