WASHINGTON (TNS) — A federal judge said Monday that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and another senior campaign aide posed "significant flight risks" a week after they were indicted on charges of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy that emerged from the special counsel investigation.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson did not ease bail conditions for Paul J. Manafort and Richard W. Gates, who pleaded not guilty last week in the first criminal charges to stem from special counsel Robert S. Mueller's probe into whether the Trump campaign actively conspired with Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Manafort, 68, and Gates, 45, are accused of a web of financial crimes unrelated to the campaign but which extended through the election year, according to the 12-count indictment.
"These are serious alleged offenses that would expose these defendants to significant penalties," Berman Jackson said, explaining why she considered them potentially willing to flee to avoid a trial that she has scheduled for May 7.
Berman Jackson said she was inclined to keep in place strict restrictions on their movements, including a ban on international travel, restrictions on domestic travel without the court's permission, a daily curfew and 24-hour-a day monitoring of their movements using satellite-linked ankle bracelets.
Both have been under house arrest since they surrendered to the FBI on Oct. 30. Bail was initially set at $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates.
Manafort, a wealthy lobbyist and GOP power broker who served as Trump's campaign chairman for several months, left the campaign after questionable payments for his lobbying work for a Kremlin-backed political party in Ukraine came to light. Gates, his business associate, stayed through the president's inauguration.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are discussing a less restrictive bail proposal that they expect to present to the judge this week. Berman Jackson said she needed to see more financial information for Manafort and Gates, including their net worth, before she would change bail conditions.
Prosecutors proposed easing the restrictions over the weekend to allow Manafort to travel for business only in Virginia, New York and Florida.
On Saturday, Manafort's lawyers proposed that he also be allowed to travel to Washington and offered to pledge his homes at Trump Tower, lower Manhattan in New York City, and in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., as collateral, along with $4.5 million in life insurance policies.
Manafort had yet to provide documentation to substantiate his claimed $28 million in assets or net worth, prosecutors said over the weekend.
The judge said she was prepared to lift the defendants' home detention, which was imposed by a magistrate judge, once they put up more of their financial assets.
"If financial arrangements are made that are satisfactory to the government, I am inclined to impose a less restrictive regime," Berman Jackson said. "I'm not in position to grant either motion today. We're going to have to wait for consideration of further information."
The next court hearing is in December.