Lobbyist reaches plea deal connected to Russian Federation and Ukraine work

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A former associate of Paul Manafort, Sam Patten, was charged Friday with failing to register in the U.S.as a foreign agent for his work lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.

The court filing also detailed Patten's alleged work with another person, identified only as Foreigner B. Patten helped the person draft op-ed articles and get them published in US media in February 2017.

Patten was a business associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, a man who USA authorities said has ties to Russian intelligence. 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. Kilimnik worked closely with Manafort, and is a co-defendant in a pending case against Manafort in Washington that accuses them both of witness tampering.

The company was paid more than $1 million through an offshore Cypriot bank account to advise the party and its members, including a "prominent Ukraine oligarch" between 2014 and this year, according to a court document filed Friday.

Patten also agreed he had steered an illegal foreign donation to President Trump's inauguration, telling prosecutors that he arranged for an American citizen to act as a "straw donor" to give $50,000 to Trump's Inauguration in place of a Ukrainian businessman who was legally barred from contributing to the event.

Watching from the gallery was Andrew Weissmann, an expert on money laundering and complex fraud cases who will be the lead prosecutor in Manafort's trial in Washington.

In court, Patten conveyed the air of a solemn man aware of what he had done.

Patten praised Kilimnik at the time as a person who helped Manafort navigate the complicated Ukrainian political scene. Patten and his partner drafted periodic op-ed articles for US press, including in January and February 2017. He was released on his own recognizance Friday without a sentencing date. The client wasn't eligible to buy the tickets themselves because the inauguration committee couldn't accept foreign money under Federal Election Commission rules.

Separately, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica for its data services in 2016.

Kilimnik has been indicted in absentia alongside Manafort on obstruction of justice charges. The charge is a felony and carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, Miller said. The Atlantic reported in April that Patten has known Kilimnik since at least 2001, when they worked together at the International Republican Institute in Moscow. Prosecutions of the offense are rare, but in recent years the Justice Department's national security division has taken a tougher stance on enforcement of the law.

Patten registered with Congress in 2016 to lobby for a group called the Committee to Destroy Isis, which was financed in part by a Jordanian construction company, according to disclosures filed with the Senate Office of Public Records.

The 35-minute court proceeding was sparsely attended by members of the press and court employees, yet members of Mueller's special counsel's office filled a front row of seats.

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