Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort could be headed to the notorious Rikers Island if prosecutors get their way.
New York prosecutors are seeking to move Manafort from the western Pennsylvania prison where he is serving his federal sentence to Rikers Island for the duration of a state case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
This would mean he almost certainly would be back in solitary confinement for months, similar to the conditions that Manafort’s lawyers said led to a deterioration of his health ahead of his federal trial in Virginia and around his guilty plea on federal charges in Washington, DC.
Vance’s office has declined to comment.
Rikers Island has a notorious reputation for both its violence and its poor conditions. The US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York reached a settlement with the city in 2015 after a multi-year investigation found adolescent inmates were not protected from “the rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force by New York City Department of Correction staff and violence inflicted by other inmates.”
Manafort is currently serving his sentence at the penitentiary in Loretto, Pennsylvania, in the rural western part of the state.
He was sentenced in March to a total of 90 months in prison to seven and a half years in prison for federal tax fraud, bank fraud and foreign lobbying violation stemming from two cases from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
Less than an hour later, Vance announced a 16-count criminal indictment charging Manafort with state crimes, including residential mortgage fraud and falsifying business records.
President Donald Trump said late last year that he hadn’t discussed a possible pardon for Manafort, but he has expressed sympathy for his former campaign chairman. While Trump could pardon Manafort for federal crimes, his authority doesn’t extend to state charges.
Vance’s office waited until after Manafort was sentenced to announce the indictment, which was handed up a week earlier. At the time, Vance said, “No one is beyond the law in New York.”
The state charges are likely to be challenged under the notion of double jeopardy, which prohibits the prosecution of someone twice for the same offense. New York’s state legislature passed a bill last month that would allow state charges against an individual pardoned by a president, but the law is not retroactive and would not apply to Manafort.
After Manafort is transferred to New York, he will soon after be arraigned before a judge on the state charges.
Manafort follows a line of other celebrities accused of crimes who have been in Rikers, including Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former director of the International Monetary Fund, who was accused of sexual assault, as well as rappers Lil’ Wayne and Tupac Shakur.