Judge refuses to toss money laundering charge against Manafort, upholds search of storage unit
Paul Manafort. mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has refused to dismiss a money laundering charge against Paul Manafort and refused to exclude evidence seized from his storage unit.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled against Manafort, who is President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, in separate opinions.
Jackson refused to dismiss the money laundering claim in a Friday opinion, report Politico and Bloomberg News. Manafort is charged with conspiring to launder money to promote violation of the law that requires lobbyists for foreign entities to register with the U.S. government.
Manafort had claimed he couldn’t be charged with money laundering because it’s not against the law to act as a foreign agent. The law only criminalizes failure to register, he argued. Jackson disagreed. It is a crime to act as a foreign agent after failing to register, she said.
A former employee of Manafort’s had allowed the government to access the storage unit a day before the FBI used a search warrant to search for business records. The former employee had a key and had signed the lease for the unit.
Jackson said the FBI’s initial inspection of the storage unit was allowed under the consent exception to the warrant requirement. As a result, there was no taint to the second search in which records were seized, she said. The FBI had described the bankers’ boxes and filing cabinet observed in the unit in the warrant application.
Even if the initial inspection was unlawful, the search warrant was valid and the seizure of the business records was lawful, Jackson said.