Home > NewsRelease > How a Trump Presidential Pardon Could Hurt Paul Manafort
How a Trump Presidential Pardon Could Hurt Paul Manafort
Larry Levine - Ex Inmate - Prison Consultant & Criminal Justice Expert Larry Levine - Ex Inmate - Prison Consultant & Criminal Justice Expert
Los Angeles , CA
Thursday, March 14, 2019


How a Presidential Pardon Could Hurt Paul Manafort

"Manafort's Double Edged Sword"

By Larry Jay Levine

While some people might think former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort got off light on his federal prison sentences, they're actually a double edged sword and here's why.

Manafort Sentencing

Manafort's first go around at sentencing was on March 7, 2019 before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District of Virginia. According to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Manafort offense level exposed him to facing a possible 24 year sentence after being convicted on five counts of tax fraud, one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud.

While the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines used to be mandatory, they've been considered advisory for over a decade, and Judge Ellis gave several reasons justifying the relatively lenient sentence of 47 months he gave Manafort before slamming down his gavel.

When Manafort went to his second sentencing for defrauding the United States and Witness Tampering in a Washington D.C. Federal Court on March 13, 2019, he also got off light.  U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jack sentenced him to only 73 months, and instead of running her sentence consecutive to the Manafort's Virginia sentence as many speculated she would, she ran it  concurrent with his Virginia sentence meaning that he would only have to serve 73 months period!

Spending Time In Club Fed

With everything factored in it seemed like a sweet deal. Since his sentence was under 10 years, based on the Federal Bureau of Prisons Custody and security classification policies and his lack of criminal history, Manafort would receive an inmate classification of "Minimum Security" with an "Out Custody" rating. This would qualify him to serve out his sentence in a relatively safe cushy Club Fed type prison camp where they don't lock doors, there are no fences and limited staff, spending his time playing cards and sipping Espresso while bullshitting with his new friends among the white collar inmates and other non-violent offender who'd make inmate population.

Manafort Out in Only Four Years

By the time you figured in the 9 months of pre-sentence Jail Credit he got after his bond was revoked, the 285 days of Federal Good-Conduct-Time Credit (6 and half months) he could get, and another 6 months of possible community custody on Home Confinement, Manafort could have been out on the street in just over 4 years (51 Months) by June of 2023. Not a bad deal at all considering everything he'd been facing.

New State Charges

With the prospect of a possible Pardon from President Trump things didn't look bad at all. Then the real disaster hit! Just minutes after Manafort was sentenced a New York State grand jury indicted him on 16 new criminal counts of Mortgage Fraud, Conspiracy and Falsifying Records. While Trump has the power to Pardon on Federal Crimes, his reach doesn't extend to state convictions.

A Boost In Custody Level - Bye Bye "Club Fed"

Should Manafort be convicted in New York State, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will hang a "Detainer" on him, call him a "Flight Risk" and take away his Minimum Security Camp Eligibility.

While most states will their run sentences concurrent with a Federal Sentence and offer Parole, a state sentence would have serious ramifications for Manafort.

Instead of spending time in a Cushy Camp, Manafort will be spending his time with a boost in custody level inside a Low Security FCI  (Federal Correctional Institute) rubbing shoulders with bank robbers and drug dealers, being subjected to locked doors, controlled movement,  two barbed wire fences, and roving truck patrols around the perimeter with trigger happy cops totting machine guns just waiting to put some lead into an ancy inmate trying to go over the fence.

How a Trump Pardon Could Hurt Manafort

It is possible that Manafort could try to fight the New York charges as Double Jeopardy. But should Trump pardon him, this scenario would remove Manafort from the "Safer" federal system and place him squarely as an inmate in the Violent New York State Department of Corrections.

The differences between a minimum security camp and low security FCI for an inmate can be drastic.

  • Camps have no perimeter fences or armed security.

  • FCI's have two secure barbed wire fences with roving security patrols armed with Machine Guns.

  • Camp housing unit doors are never locked.

  • FCI inmates are locked in their housing units at night.

  • Camps generally house non-violent white-collar offenders.

  • FCI's can house bank robbers, drug dealers and those convicted of sex crimes

  • Camps house inmate serving up to 10 years or less.

  • FCI's house inmates serving 10 to 20 years.

  • Camps have relatively few correctional workers.

  • FCI's have a high ratio of staff to inmates.

  • Camps have few incidents of inmate on inmate violence.

  • FCI's are known to have stabbings, inmate on inmate violence and occasional riots.


The author Larry Levine spent 10 years as an inmate  in eleven federal prisons and is a frequent guest on Fox, CNN, Headline News, Inside Edition and many other TV News Networks. He has appeared as a News Media source regarding the Criminal Justice System in several hundred major publications and articles.


He can be contacted at 213-219-9033 or larrylevine@pacifictelephone.net should you wish to use him as an expert story source.

Larry Levine
Wall Street Prison Consultants
Moorpark, CA