Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Manafort

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

July 31, 2018

United States of America, Appellee
v.
Paul John Manafort, Jr., Appellant

          On Appeal of a Pretrial Detention Order (No. 1:17-cr-00201-1)

          Frank P. Cihlar, Richard W. Westling, and Thomas E. Zehnle were on appellant's Memorandum of Law and Fact.

          Andrew Weissman and Scott A.C. Meisler, Attorneys, U.S. Department of Justice, were on appellee's Memorandum of Law and Fact.

          Michael R. Dreeben and Adam C. Jed, Attorneys, U.S. Department of Justice, entered appearances.

          Before: Tatel, Griffith and Wilkins, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          Wilkins, Circuit Judge.

         We consider an appeal of a pretrial detention order issued after revoking release due to the defendant's alleged commission of new crimes of witness tampering while released. We affirm.

         I.

         On October 27, 2017, the United States, by and through a Grand Jury convened by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, indicted Appellant Paul Manafort on nine criminal charges, including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal in violation of the Foreign Asset Registration Act ("FARA"), and making false and misleading statements. See Indictment, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Oct. 30, 2017), ECF No. 13. Following his arrest and arraignment, the District Court released Appellant to home confinement with various conditions. See Order Setting Conditions for High Intensity Supervision Program, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Oct. 30, 2017), ECF No. 9. Among the conditions, the release order stated that Appellant was "not to commit any criminal offense" while on release, and "a rearrest for any offense based upon probable cause may be grounds for revoking [] release." Id. at 2. This condition - to not commit any further crimes - was imposed yet again when his release conditions were modified a few weeks later. See Order, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Dec. 15, 2017), ECF No. 95.

         As discussed below, the alleged violation of this release condition is the core of this appeal.

         In the meantime, the District Court issued a "gag order," which commanded all parties involved in the case "to refrain from making further statements to the media or in public settings that are 'substantially likely to have a materially prejudicial effect on this case, '" without objection. Order ("Gag Order") at 1, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Nov. 8, 2017), ECF No. 38 (quoting Gentile v. State Bar of Nev., 501 U.S. 1030, 1076 (1991)). In a filing relating to conditions of release, the Government proffered that Appellant had violated the Gag Order by "ghostwriting an editorial . . . regarding his political work for Ukraine." See Gov.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Modify Conditions of Release at 2, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Dec. 4, 2017), ECF No. 73. On December 5, the District Court ordered Appellant to show cause why he had not violated the Gag Order. See Minute Order, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Dec. 5, 2017). Appellant responded that he merely had "edited" the op-ed "to ensure its accuracy" and that the Ukrainian editorial was unlikely to reach an American audience, so it did not pose a substantial likelihood of a materially prejudicial effect. See Def.'s Reply Mem. to Gov.'s Opp'n to Mot. to Modify Conditions of Release and Resp. to Minute Order, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Dec. 7, 2017), ECF No. 79. The District Court discharged the show-cause order, but noted that it would "view similar conduct in the future to be an effort to circumvent and evade the requirements" of the Gag Order. Status Conference Tr. at 12, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Dec. 11, 2017), ECF No. 112. The District Court also stated that it would consider the issue of the editorial "in connection with [its] consideration of the bond issue." Id.

         The investigation of Appellant apparently continued, because the Special Counsel filed a superseding indictment against Appellant on February 23, 2018. See Superseding Indictment, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Feb. 23, 2018), ECF No. 202. The February 23 Superseding Indictment included new details about how Appellant allegedly acted as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal and related offenses. Specifically, the indictment alleged that Appellant and his associates retained former senior European politicians, which they referred to as the "Hapsburg group," to advocate on behalf of certain Ukrainian principals by conducting "outreach to United States politicians and press" and by "lobbying in the United States." Id. ¶¶ 29-30.

         The indictment in our District Court is not the only federal criminal case pending against Appellant. On February 22, 2018, the Special Counsel filed a separate superseding indictment against Appellant in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging tax evasion, failure to report foreign assets, and bank fraud. United States v. Manafort, No. 18-cr-83 (E.D. Va. Feb. 22, 2018), ECF No. 9. (Apparently venue for these charges does not lie in the District of Columbia, and Appellant declined to waive venue. See Appellee's Br. 6 n.4.) The District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia entered a pretrial release order on March 9, 2018, which contained a condition not found in the District of Columbia release orders, namely that Appellant "must avoid all contact, directly or indirectly, with any person who is a victim or witness in the investigation or prosecution of the defendant." Order ("EDVA Stay-Away Order") at 3, United States v. Manafort, No. 18-cr-83 (E.D. Va. Mar. 9, 2018), ECF No. 25.

         This brings us to the events directly underlying the instant appeal. On June 4, 2018, the Government moved to revoke Appellant's release and remand him into custody pending trial pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3148. See Gov.'s Mot. to Revoke or Revise Def.'s Current Order of Pretrial Release, United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. June 4, 2018), ECF No. 315. The Government argued that Appellant violated the terms of his release "by attempting to tamper with potential witnesses" in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1). Id. at 1. The core allegations of the Government's motion related to "[t]wo individuals who were principals of a public-relations company [that] acted as intermediaries between Manafort, [an associate then identified as Person A], co-defendant Richard Gates, and the Hapsburg group." Id. at 4. The Government contended that Appellant "repeatedly contacted" these two witnesses - Persons D1 and D2 - "in an effort to secure materially false testimony concerning the activities of the Hapsburg group." Id. at 5. As detailed in FBI Agent Brock Domin's declaration, filed with the Government's revocation motion, the Government alleges that Appellant attempted to contact D1 and D2 on multiple occasions from February 24, 2018, to April 4, 2018. Decl. in Supp. of Gov's Mot. to Revoke or Revise Def.'s Current Order of Pretrial Release ("Domin Decl."), United States v. Manafort, No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. June 4, 2018), ECF No. 315-2. These attempts included a call to D1 in which "Manafort stated that he wanted to give Person D1 a heads-up about Hapsburg," a message Appellant sent to D1 via an encrypted application transmitting a link to a news story about the February 23 Superseding Indictment with a note that "[w]e should talk. I ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.