Swept up in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, a Washington lobbyist and former Paul Manafort associate named W. Samuel Patten pleaded guilty Friday to one count of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Although Patten did not specifically name Manafort in his statement of offense, he has agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department according to the terms of his plea agreement.
In 2014, Patten and a Russian national formed a company in the U.S. that offered lobbying and political consulting services. In 2015, Patten and his company began advising the Opposition Bloc, a Ukrainian political party in which Paul Manafort acted as political consultant before serving as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016.
According to the criminal information, Patten’s company received more than $1 million for its work lobbying for the Opposition Bloc from 2015 to 2017. In addition to inserting op-ed articles into U.S. media organizations, Patten and his company set up meetings with his foreign clients and U.S. government officials, including senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, representatives on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and officials from the State Department.
According to his statement of the offense, Patten knew that he was violating federal law by acting as an unregistered foreign agent operating within the U.S. While working for another client, Patten had previously filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act but intentionally failed to register his lobbying work for the Opposition Bloc.
Patten’s case was initially under investigation by the Special Counsel’s Office before being referred over to the Justice Department. Facing up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, Patten pleaded guilty on Friday and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors according to the terms of his plea deal. His sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Last month, Manafort was found guilty of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failing to disclose his foreign bank accounts. Manafort is scheduled to face a second set of criminal charges regarding his failure to register his foreign lobbying and alleged involvement in a Ukrainian money laundering conspiracy at another federal trial in Washington, D.C. on September 24.
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