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‘Blatant inequities’: Lawyers compare Paul Manafort’s 4-year sentence to other convictions

Click to play video: 'Trump says he feels ‘very badly’ for Manafort, says verdict exonerates him from collusion allegations with Russia' Trump says he feels ‘very badly’ for Manafort, says verdict exonerates him from collusion allegations with Russia
WATCH: Trump says he feels 'very badly' for Manafort, says verdict exonerates him from collusion allegations with Russia – Mar 8, 2019

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman was sentenced to 47 months in prison, just shy of four years.

The sentence was for tax- and bank-fraud convictions related to Paul Manafort’s business dealings in Ukraine, stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

READ MORE: Paul Manafort sentenced to 47 months in prison, ordered to pay $24M in restitution

Judge T.S. Ellis III, discussing character reference letters submitted by Manafort’s friends and family, partially justified the decisions saying Manafort had lived an “otherwise blameless life.”

But legal experts called the sentence “lenient” and compared it to other crimes which received a much harsher sentence.

“Paul Manafort’s lenient 4-year sentence — far below the recommended 20 years despite extensive felonies and post-conviction obstruction — is a reminder of the blatant inequities in our justice system that we all know about, because they reoccur every week in courts across America,” Ari Melber, a legal commentator on NBC tweeted.

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On Twitter, lawyers shared examples of other non-violent crimes which received harsher punishments.

New York public defender Rebecca Kavanagh shared the story of one of her clients, who stole laundry detergent and could face up to seven years in prison.

WATCH: Paul Manafort sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison for financial crimes

Click to play video: 'Paul Manafort sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison for financial crimes' Paul Manafort sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison for financial crimes
Paul Manafort sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison for financial crimes – Mar 7, 2019

“While Paul Manafort just received a less than 4 year prison sentence for massive financial fraud, I have a client serving 3 and a half to 7 years in prison for stealing laundry detergent from a drug store,” she wrote.

Another public defender Schott Hechinger shared the story of many of his clients, including one who was offered a sentence of 36-72 months for stealing $100.

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Juanita Peralta — a mother of six who received 15 years for drug possession —was a common example. Another was the six-year sentence of a woman who voted when she didn’t realize that her probation prohibited her from voting.

One of the more poignant examples is the case of Kalief Browder – who was never convicted of a crime.

READ MORE: From ostrich-skin jackets to prison jumpsuits: The stunning fall of Paul Manafort

The 16-year-old boy was accused of stealing a backpack. According to the New York Times, he spent three years in jail waiting for trial because he or his family couldn’t afford bail. Charges were eventually dropped; Browder killed himself three years later. His family has won a lawsuit against the state of New York.

Lawyers said they weren’t advocating for more time in jail for Manafort, just pointing out the “disparity” between the sentences.

“I am not making the argument for harsher sentences for anyone including Manafort,” Hechinger wrote. “I am simply pointing out the outrageous disparity between his treatment and others, disproportionately poor & people of color.”

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“Just wish my clients received same treatment as the privileged few.”

READ MORE: Manafort lawyers request sentence far below guidelines

An article in the Iowa Law Review published in 2017 suggested the need for legal reform when it comes to white-collar crime. The research showed “judges resist the harsh sentencing guidelines for today’s economic crimes.”

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