Sam Patten, Manafort associate, pleads guilty in case referred by Mueller

Sam Patten, Manafort associate, pleads guilty in case referred by Mueller

A USA political lobbyist with links to Paul Manafort pleaded guilty Friday to violating foreign lobbying laws for work he did on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.

W. Samuel Patten, 47, pleaded guilty to acting as an agent of a foreign principal to the Ukrainian political party, Opposition Bloc, without registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The charging document, which doesn't name Kilimnik, says that Patten and an unidentified Russian national did work for the Opposition Bloc party and its members - including a "prominent Ukraine oligarch" - which included setting up meetings with State Department officials and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2015.

Patten was a business associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, a man authorities say has ties to Russian intelligence and who worked closely with Manafort. He was released on his own recognizance Friday without a sentencing date. United States officials say Kilimnik continues to maintain close ties to Russian intelligence.

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"Patten was aware at the time that the Presidential Inauguration Committee could not accept money from foreign nationals", the charges said. He has denied that in interviews with reporters.

Patten, according to the filing, contacted members of Congress and the executive branch, as well as members of the media, on behalf of his clients. The two also ghostwrote opinion pieces directed at an American audience. Prosecutors allege that Patten knew that he was required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act but failed to do so.

In an interview with the Washington Post a year ago, Patten gushed that Kilimnik helped Manafort understand Ukrainian politics while the longtime political operative was working in the country. Manafort faces charges of conspiracy, money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent. His plea explicitly states he must cooperate "fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly" with Mueller's team - a fact that could prove crucial to prosecutors as they prepare for Manafort's second trial next month on charges of money laundering, illegal lobbying and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That case is set to go on trial in the District of Columbia next month. The former Trump campaign chairman was found guilty earlier this month by a jury in Alexandria, Va., on on 8 of 18 counts of bank and tax fraud. He made most of his money working for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose party regrouped into the Opposition Bloc after Yanukovych fled to Russian Federation in 2014.

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