Prosecutors assisting special counsel Robert Mueller’s team filed a brief on Thursday, defending their efforts to introduce photo evidence of Paul Manafort’s opulent spending, arguing the photos are proof of the lavish lifestyle Manafort sought to maintain, and why he might have turned to bank fraud to preserve it.
Citing nine different fraud cases, prosecutors argued that courts have consistently allowed prosecutors to show evidence of a defendant’s spending and lifestyle in tax and bank fraud proceedings and said the inclusion is not “unduly prejudicial.” They also argued that evidence of the payments to the luxury vendors — with money allegedly from foreign bank accounts — further illustrates that Manafort acted “willfully” to deceive his bookkeepers and “ultimately the IRS.”
Prosecutors concluded that photos of Manafort’s lifestyle — including expensive clothing and graphics outlining a renovation he made to the electrical wiring at his Hamptons home — provide proof of the lifestyle that Manafort had grown accustomed to, and why, when he lost a source of income in 2014, he might have resorted to fraud.
“Indeed, the government is entitled to refute the common argument that a wealthy person has no need to commit bank fraud, by demonstrating that Manafort had grown accustomed to his material wealth,” prosecutors said in the briefing.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis reprimanded prosecutors on Wednesday for focusing too much on the details of the luxury items that Manafort purchased allegedly with undisclosed funds and money he stored in foreign bank accounts.
“Mr. Manafort is not on trial for having a lavish lifestyle,” Ellis said Wednesday while cutting off a prosecutor’s line of questioning about the items.
Photos of some of Manafort’s costly apparel — which includes a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich — were made public by Mueller’s team Wednesday.
Read Thursday’s filing below: