Chicago plays role Tuesday in cases of 3 Trump associates in Mueller probe
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Chicago played a role in the developments Tuesday in the three criminal cases involving Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and George Papadopoulos — all men with ties to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign who have been caught up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Jury deadlocks on Manafort’s Chicago bank loans
A jury on Tuesday convicted Manafort of eights counts involving financial crimes but deadlocked on 10 other counts, including four counts that dealt with two loans totaling $16 million from The Federal Savings Bank at 300 N. Elizabeth in Chicago.
The mistrial on the Federal Savings-related charges included two counts of bank fraud and two counts of bank-fraud conspiracy.
During Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Va., a series of emails entered into evidence showed Federal CEO Stephen Calk’s naked quest for a job in the Trump campaign and White House and how he hoped to use Manafort to further his ambitions.
Calk discussed landing a cabinet-level appointment in emails with Manafort or, alternatively, a job as Army Secretary or as an ambassador. Calk even sent Manafort a list of 19 nations he would like to serve in — in order of preference — as ambassador.
Manafort pushed Calk’s candidacy to be Army Secretary to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law,
Mueller’s prosecutors never called Calk to testify, and jurors might have raised concerns about his obvious absence. Or the jurors may have noted that prosecutors never charged anyone with pay-to-play offenses.
Jurors heard from a former Federal executive, Dennis Raico and a current one, John Breen. Raico and Breen, granted immunity to testify, were skeptical about the financial information Manafort submitted for the loans on properties in New York.
The defense argued that Raico and Breen’s concerns were immaterial given that Calk owned 67 percent of the bank, a bank loan committee approved the deal and the real estate provided plenty of collateral.
The defense may have scored points by highlighting that Manafort paid 7.25 percent interest on the loans and three points, or about $285,000.
Chicago taxi medallions figure in Cohen’s plea
In New York, Cohen, Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer pleaded guilty to various schemes.
Cohen’s guilty plea included failure to disclose to the Internal Revenue Service more than $2.4 million he earned from 22 taxi medallions he operated in Chicago between 2012 and 2016. The medallions were managed by an unidentified husband and his wife, who got a series of loans from Cohen totaling $6 million, according to the indictment. The couple paid Cohen more than $2.4 million in interest that he put in his personal bank accounts without disclosing the income to the IRS.
The medallions are managed by Chicago Medallion Management, a company owned by the family of Semyon Shtayner and his wife Yasya, Ukrainian immigrants who live in Trump properties in New York City and Florida.
Over the past year, Cook County property records show, Yasya Shtayner received eight loans totaling at least $20 million from Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, another Ukranian immigrant who also lives in Trump properties in New York City and Florida.
Will Papadopoulos withdraw guilty plea?
Papadopoulos’ wife, Simona, has suggested in interviews that her husband was framed and should withdraw his guilty plea.
He admitted to one count of lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian-related operative. Raised in Lincolnwood and now a North Side resident, Papadopoulous will be sentenced in September to no more than six months in prison.
In a tweet Tuesday night, Simona said, “Final decision will be made very soon.”
This came after the couple huddled in Chicago Tuesday with his lawyers. Simona said in a tweet that they “just had a productive meeting with George’s attorneys Thomas Breen and Rob Stanley. Feeling confident in the representation of excellent lawyers.”
Lynn Sweet reported from Washington D.C. and Tim Novak reported from Chicago.