Sam Patten, former Manafort associate, charged with illegal lobbying

Sep 03, 2018, 04:18
Sam Patten, former Manafort associate, charged with illegal lobbying

As part of a plea agreement under which he pledged to cooperate with federal prosecutors, Sam Patten pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent for a Russia-aligned Ukrainian political party, and to helping a Ukrainian oligarch who funded that party illegally purchase four tickets to Trump's inauguration.

Patten appeared before US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who will oversee Manafort's upcoming trial.

The documents filed along with Patten's plea lay out years of work he performed for a wealthy Ukrainian businessman and a Ukrainian political party known as the Opposition Bloc beginning in 2014.

Along with being an associate of Manafort's and an employee at the OR office of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, Patten was also an old friend and regular business associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, a man suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.

The plea agreement, which includes cooperating with Mueller's office, raises the prospect Patten will be called to testify against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chief who faces a second trial in Washington next month, or Kilimnik, who was indicted for witness tampering in the same case.

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Patten admitted to working with the Russian national to lobby members of Congress and the executive branch on behalf of the pro-Russian Opposition Bloc without disclosing the work to the U.S. government, as required by law.

Prosecutors describe Foreigner A as a "Russian national" who partnered with Patten to create a political consulting company, "Company A", split 50-50.

A veteran Republican lobbyist with reported ties to a Russian national whom special counsel Robert Mueller indicted in June has been charged with foreign lobbying violations, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., announced Friday.

The case against Patten was referred to the U.S. attorney's office in DC by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose team has been investigating potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Patten said he would cooperate with prosecutors. Patten is said to have been compensated in excess of $1 million for his work on behalf of the pro-Russian group between 2014-2017.

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According to the filing, Patten also drafted op-ed articles for the oligarch and succeeded in having at least one published by a national American media outlet in February 2017. Yet, to hide that Foreigner B was paying for the tickets, court papers say Patten had the American front the $50,000 for the tickets.

Patten's work continued through Donald Trump's surprise election win.

Patten then attended an inauguration event with the Ukrainian client, the document said.

Patten and his Kilimnik even asked their client's permission to register as foreign agents. Mark Warner of Virginia, confirmed that the committee had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department requesting an investigation into Patten. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but both sides agreed there is no recommended sentence under federal guidelines.

But with Manafort's prosecution, the Justice Department has been more closely scrutinizing such work.

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No sentencing date has been set.