Manhattan’s district attorney is moving forward with his effort to prosecute Paul Manafort on mortgage fraud charges after President Donald Trump pardoned his former campaign chairman Wednesday. The case is likely to test a law New York passed last year to close the “double jeopardy loophole” for presidential pardons.
District Attorney Cy Vance’s office said it is continuing its attempt to appeal a ruling from last December in which a New York judge threw out its fraud charges against Manafort.
Judge Maxwell Wiley ruled that the prosecutor couldn’t bring those charges against Manafort, who at the time was serving a 7 ½-year prison sentence after being convicted in federal court in 2017 on charges relating to his business dealings. This October, an appellate court upheld that ruling.
Trump granted clemency to Manafort, citing “blatant prosecutorial overreach” in the case, but Vance’s office said it is not letting Manafort off the hook.
“This action underscores the urgent need to hold Mr. Manafort accountable for his crimes against the people of New York as alleged in our indictment, and we will continue to pursue our appellate remedies,” Vance spokesperson Danny Frost said in a statement.
Manafort’s defense attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
The former campaign chairman had been released from prison in May because of coronavirus concerns.
Vance filed a 16-count indictment against Manafort in March 2019 that included allegations he deceived banks in order to get a loan on Soho condominium at 29 Howard Street in Manhattan.
The charges came on the same day a federal judge increased Manafort’s prison sentence and were largely seen as a hedge in case Trump issued a pardon.
In October of last year, New York state Democrats passed a law to close the “double jeopardy loophole,” to allow the state to prosecute people for state crimes after they have received presidential pardons, but it’s not clear how that will affect Manafort now.
Dmitriy Shakhnevich, a constitutional law professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that if prosecutors move forward with a case against Manafort, it’s likely the state’s new law will be called into question.
“It will be challenged for sure if there’s any state prosecution under this law,” he said.