Cohen Sentenced To 3 Years After Implicating Trump In Hush-money Scandal

New York Times

Michael D. Cohen, the former lawyer for President Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday morning in part for his role in a scandal that could threaten Mr. Trump’s presidency by implicating him in a scheme to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with him.

The sentencing in federal court in Manhattan capped a startling fall for Mr. Cohen, 52, who had once hoped to work by Mr. Trump’s side in the White House but ended up a central figure in the inquiry into payments to a porn star and a former Playboy model before the 2016 election.

Judge William H. Pauley III said Mr. Cohen had committed a “smorgasbord” of crimes involving “deception” and motivated by “personal greed and ambition.”

“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better,” the judge said.

Before he was sentenced, a solemn Mr. Cohen, standing at a lectern, sounded emotional but resolved as he told the judge he had been tormented by the anguish and embarrassment he had caused his family.

“I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today,” he said, “and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” – a reference to Mr. Trump – “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

Mr. Cohen said the president had been correct to call him “weak” recently, “but for a much different reason than he was implying.”

“It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Cohen then apologized to the public: “You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”

Federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office and home in April, and he later turned on Mr. Trump, making the remarkable admission in court that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange the payments.

Mr. Trump at first denied knowing anything about the payments, but then acknowledged that he had known about them. This week, he insisted that the payments were “a simple private transaction” — not election-related spending subject to campaign-finance laws.

He also maintained that even if the hush-money payments were campaign transactions in violation of election regulations, that should be considered only a civil offense, not a criminal one.

Since Mr. Cohen came under investigation, Mr. Trump has mocked him as a “weak person” who was giving information to prosecutors in an effort to obtain leniency when he is sentenced.

In fact, Mr. Cohen did not formally cooperate with prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan. In addition to the campaign-finance violations, the sentence covered Mr. Cohen’s guilty pleas to charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and making false statements to Congress.

He took a calculated gamble in pleading guilty to this litany of federal crimes without first entering into a cooperation agreement with the government. He offered to help prosecutors, but only on his terms, and there were some subjects he declined to discuss.

His lawyers argued he should not serve time in prison. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said he deserved around four years.

Judge Pauley had the final say. The judge said Mr. Cohen’s assistance to the special counsel’s office, though useful, had not “wiped the slate clean,” and a “significant term” of prison was justified.
In the end, the judge gave Mr. Cohen three years for the crimes he committed in New York and two months for lying to Congress, to be served at the same time. He was also asked to pay nearly $2 million in fines, forfeitures and restitution.

Mr. Cohen’s sentencing was unusual because it involved guilty pleas he made in two separate cases, one filed by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and a later one by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the case brought by Mr. Mueller’s office, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the duration of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, as well as about the extent of the involvement of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen revealed that Mr. Trump was more involved in discussions over the potential deal during the election campaign than previously known.

The investigation of Mr. Cohen by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan burst into public view in April when the F.B.I. raided his office, apartment and hotel room. Agents hauled off eight boxes of documents, about 30 cellphones, iPads and computers, even the contents of a shredder.

Four months later, on Aug. 21, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements to a financial institution.

Mr. Cohen admitted in court that he had arranged the payments “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.
The payments included $130,000 to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, which the government considers an illegal donation to Mr. Trump’s campaign since it was intended to improve Mr. Trump’s election chances. (The legal limit for individual contributions is $2,700 in a general election.)

Mr. Cohen also admitted he had arranged for an illegal corporate donation to be made to Mr. Trump when he orchestrated a $150,000 payment by American Media Inc. to a former Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, in late summer 2016.

Prosecutors in Manhattan wrote last Friday to Judge Pauley that Mr. Cohen, in arranging the payments, “acted in coordination with and at the direction” of Mr. Trump, whom they referred to as Individual 1.

On Nov. 29, charged by Mr. Mueller’s office with lying to Congress, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty again.

The two prosecuting offices each wrote to Judge Pauley, offering sharply contrasting portrayals of Mr. Cohen.

The Southern District depicted him as deceitful and greedy and unwilling to fully cooperate with its investigation. It said it declined to sign Mr. Cohen as a formal cooperator because he refused to discuss fully any crimes in his past or crimes by others that he was aware of — its policy for witnesses who seek to cooperate.

The Southern District wrote to the judge that Mr. Cohen had a “rose-colored view of the seriousness” of his crimes, which they said were “marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.”

Mr. Mueller, on the other hand, said Mr. Cohen had “gone to significant lengths to assist” the Russia investigation and recommended that he receive some credit for his help.
Lawyers for Mr. Cohen, who once claimed he would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump, cited his cooperation with Mr. Mueller and his attempts to assist the Southern District prosecutors in asking that he be spared prison.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyers, Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, argued in a memorandum to the judge that Mr. Cohen had taken responsibility for his crimes and had cooperated with Mr. Mueller’s office, meeting seven times with those prosecutors to offer information. They also noted that Mr. Cohen had met twice with prosecutors in Manhattan.

Mr. Trump last week weighed in with his own sentencing recommendation, tweeting angrily, “He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”    (The Sun)

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BREAKING: Court Jails Ex-Plateau Gov. Dariye, 14 Years For N1.16bn Fraud

  Ex-Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye, jailed for 14 years

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja


The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja, on Tuesday sentenced a former Governor of Plateau State and serving senator, Joshua Dariye, to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges of criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of overN1.16bn belonging to the state.

Justice Adebukola Banjoko  ‎in a judgment which took her six and a half hours to read convicted the ex-governor on 15 out the 23 counts preferred against him.

The judge barely a fortnight ago, imposed 14 years’ jail term on ex-Governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, on similar charges.

On Tuesday she sentenced ‎Dariye to two years imprisonment on each of the five counts bordering on criminal misappropriation and 14 years’ jail term on each of the 11 counts of criminal breach of trust.

The judge, however, ruled that all the sentences would run concurrently, implying that the convict would have to spend 14 years in jail.

The punishments imposed on the ex-governor for the two categories of offences of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation are the maximum as provided under sections 315 and 309 of the Penal Code Act, respectively.

The judge threw out eight of the 23 charges on the grounds of either duplicity or lack of sufficient evidence.

‎Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s lawyer, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had in opposing the defence lawyer’s plea for mercy, urged the court to impose the maximum sentence to serve as deterrence to others.  (Punch)

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Bill Cosby Found Guilty Of Sexual Assault, What Happens Next? |The Republican News

Jayme Deerwester and Maria Puente

(Provided by People)

The jury in Bill Cosby’s retrial found him guilty of aggravated assault Thursday after about 12 hours of deliberation.

His conviction on all three counts means they determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that the comedian molested Temple University staffer Andrea Constand during a visit to his Philadelphia-area home in 2004, despite the fact that she could not consent because the pills he gave her rendered her unconscious.

But now that the verdict is in, what happens next? Here’s what we know.

Cosby is not going to jail — at least not yet.

Judge Steven O’Neill allowed the comedian, who had already posted a $1 million bond, to remain free on bail until his sentencing but said he must remain in Pennsylvania until then. A sentencing date has not been announced.

“It’s supposed to happen within 90 days (of conviction) but if all the parties agree it happens after that, it’s fine,” says Brian Zeiger, a defence lawyer who tries cases in Montgomery County, Pa., and the neighbouring Philadelphia and Bucks counties.

Michael Donio, a retired New Jersey superior court judge, says the next legal battle will be at sentencing. If Cosby is sentenced to prison, he’d go directly behind bars. However, Donio expects his lawyers to argue he should be out on bond during the appeal. Such a request, he said, is usually not granted.

Bill Cosby wearing a suit and tie: On April 26, TV legend Bill Cosby was found guilty and charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault against one woman, Andrea Constand, 45. The victim claimed that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his home in January 2004. After a retrial and several accusers coming forward, the nail in the coffin finally dropped. The comedian is now facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count and the possibility of fines up to $25,000 for each count. Keep reading to see how celebrities are reacting to the shocking news...Bill Cosby found guilty: See how Hollywood reacts!How much time might he serve?

Cosby, who is 80, blind and in declining health, was convicted on three counts, each carrying up to 10 years in prison, so any jail time could be a death sentence.

According to state law, O’Neill can sentence Cosby to either a consecutive prison term (i.e., back-to-back terms) or concurrent ones, meaning he would serve them all at the same time, with the longest term determining the duration of his prison stay.

“I would think that it would be a concurrent situation,” says Zeiger, who has tried numerous sex-offence cases. In his experience, whether a defendant gets concurrent sentencing “depends on the judge and the number of victims. In this case, they only proceeded with one. But I think they would also consider his age.”

Fellow Philadelphia-area defence attorney Steven Fairlie says Cosby is likely to get a concurrent sentence because the charges all stem from the same crime.

a close up of Janice Dickinson: Bill Cosby accuser Janice Dickinson, 63, is testifying against him at his sex-assault retrial on April 12, 2018 in Norristown, Pa.© Mark Makela, Getty Images Bill Cosby accuser Janice Dickinson, 63, is testifying against him at his sex-assault retrial on April 12, 2018, in Norristown, Pa.

But Fairlie also points out that possible victim testimony at the sentencing hearing and Cosby’s outburst following the guilty verdict — Cosby stood up and shouted vulgarities at Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele — could lead the judge to consider a harsher sentence of up to 10 years.

“Hurling insults at the district attorney is not going to help his case,” he says.

The length of Cosby’s sentence will determine where he serves time.

Zeiger says that if Cosby’s sentence is less than one or two years, he’ll likely serve it at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Eagleville, Pa., or through house arrest. He discounts the possibility of work release, citing Cosby’s age.

Gloria Allred et al. posing for the camera: Cosby accuser Judy Huth and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, right, in Los Angeles in December 2014.© Anthony McCartney, AP Cosby accuser Judy Huth and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, right, in Los Angeles in December 2014.

“If it’s one to two years or more, he would go into the state system in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” he says, “and then the trial court would lose jurisdiction over his custody.”

Donio says Cosby’s lawyers will likely argue a prison will be unable to take care of Cosby, who has said he is completely blind. If they can successfully argue this position, and a jail assessment agrees, Cosby could get house arrest or probation.

The defence team is vowing to appeal his conviction.

As he left the courthouse Thursday, lead defence attorney Tom Mesereau vowed, “The fight is not over,” indicating his intent to appeal. However, an appeal cannot proceed until Cosby is sentenced.

“After the day of sentencing, you have 10 days to file a motion for reconsideration for certain things, like there wasn’t enough evidence to convict or something is wrong with the sentencing,” Zeiger explains. “The 10-day motion stops the clock on everything. … It’s there intentionally for certain things that allow a trial court to correct simple mistakes.”

a woman standing in front of a window: Cosby accuser Chloe Goins in January 2015 in Los Angeles.       © Nick Ut, AP Cosby accuser Chloe Goins in January 2015 in Los Angeles.

Next, he says, the judge would have the power to correct the mistake pointed out in the 10-day motion and remedy it. “It could be a new trial; it could be new sentencing. If the 10-day motion is denied, the case moves to a higher court and the judge then just has to write an opinion explaining why he ruled a certain way and then the superior court has jurisdiction at that point.”

He adds that if the issues the defence plans to raise on appeal don’t fit the parameters of a 10-day motion, they can immediately file a notice of appeal within 30 days of sentencing. “But if you don’t put (the tiny mistakes) in the 10-day motion, you can’t appeal them at a later date.”

The civil cases against him will proceed.

“What’s next?” attorney Lisa Bloom tweeted after the guilty verdict came in. “My defamation case on behalf of Janice Dickinson against Bill Cosby, which we’ve been fighting and winning for three-plus years, goes on.”

She added, ” Mr Cosby, I’m looking forward to taking your deposition.”

Dickinson’s California suit asserts that Cosby and lawyer Martin Singer defamed her by calling her a “liar” after she publicly accused Cosby of raping her in 2014, following several other women who had already stepped forward to say they had been assaulted by the entertainer. Cosby is appealing a ruling allowing Dickinson’s case to proceed.

Three other civil cases wait in the wings, each having been put on hold until Cosby’s criminal case is resolved.

All of those other allegations were too old to pursue in criminal court under statutes of limitation. Consequently, some of Cosby’s accusers have filed lawsuits in civil courts seeking to go after Cosby. Here’s an update on the other cases:

Judy Huth

In Los Angeles, Cosby is being sued by Judy Huth, who is repped by Bloom’s mother, power lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents a number of other Cosby accusers, including three who were allowed to testify at the retrial.

In her suit, Huth accuses the comedian of sexual battery: She says he forced her to perform a sex act on him in a bedroom of the Playboy Mansion around 1974 when she was 15. In June 2017, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan tentatively scheduled a trial on Huth’s lawsuit for July 30, 2018.

In December, Cosby gave a deposition in the case, which was then sealed by a judge who ruled Cosby can be deposed again once the criminal case is concluded.

Chloe Goins

Former model Chloe Goins is suing the comedian for sexual battery and other claims, also in California. Goins says Cosby drugged and sexually abused her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.

Prosecutors declined to file a criminal case against Cosby stemming from Goins’ allegations, saying investigators could not corroborate them. Last summer, a judge denied Cosby’s motion to dismiss and scheduled a trial for June 2018. Florida lawyer Spencer Kuvin represents Goins.

Bill Cosby wearing a suit and tie: On April 26, TV legend Bill Cosby was found guilty and charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault against one woman, Andrea Constand, 45. The victim claimed that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his home in January 2004. After a retrial and several accusers coming forward, the nail in the coffin finally dropped. The comedian is now facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count and the possibility of fines up to $25,000 for each count. Keep reading to see how celebrities are reacting to the shocking news...

The Massachusetts defamation case

Seven women sued Cosby for defamation in one lawsuit pending in Massachusetts, where Cosby has a home in Shelburne Falls. They say he sexually abused them decades ago and then defamed them after they went public by having his agents deny the claims and brand them, liars.

Repped by lawyer Joseph Cammarata, the suit started with one accuser, Tamara Green, and grew to include six other women: Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis and Angela Leslie.

But Judge Mark Mastroianni granted Cosby’s motion to dismiss five of the counts relating to accuser Angela Leslie because the plaintiffs conceded the allegedly defamatory statements at issue were not about her. Cosby tweeted about the development on June 30, calling it another example of his success in getting claims against him dismissed.

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