The wife of former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort may be forced to vacate their Florida mansion because he lied to federal investigators and put his plea deal in peril.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Kathleen Manafort continues to live the family’s 5,231-square-foot home in BallenIsles after Manafort agreed to forfeit his $22 million real estate portfolio as part of his deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
The home, which was purchased by the Manaforts for $1.5 million in 2007, was spared in the agreement with prosecutors and, while the Trump associate recently signed over sole ownership to his wife for $10 from his Virginia jail cell, it may no longer be exempt.
According to the Post, the same year that Manafort purchased the home, his consulting firm received a $455,000 wire transfer from the party of Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. One of the charges filed against Manafort was failing to register to represent a foreign government.
Should the government now go after the property –which was homesteaded for protection purposes — they could claim it was purchased with ill-gotten proceeds.
“If the government can show the property was purchased from illegal activity, then the government can go against the property,” explained Miami attorney Frank Rubino who specializes in federal white-collar cases. “The homestead (exemption) is not protection.”
Manafort’s plea deal is now in peril after Mueller — who is investigating the White House for financial crimes and colluding with the Russians in the run-up to the 2016 election — went to court to accuse him of continuing to lie to investigators.
In the case of Katherine Manafort keeping her only remaining home, her lawyers are likely to maintain that she had no knowledge about her husband’s illegal activities and is thus an innocent party.
“I think in the eyes of the court she would be an innocent third party,” explained Palm Beach criminal defense attorney John Tierney. “There was a time when the federal government was more aggressive about forfeitures. Even if they could prove the money was tainted, once they took all the other properties … I don’t believe they will ever go after that even if they could.”
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