A lobbyist who worked with a similar Ukrainian clientele as Paul Manafort pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C., Friday to failing to register as a foreign agent for work he did on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch in 2015 through the present.
It’s not clear what relationship, if any, the lobbyist Samuel Patten has with Manafort, however Patten has worked extensively with Konstantin Kilimnik, a top associate of Manafort’s in Ukraine. Manafort had also sought to work for the Opposition Bloc, but was less successful at securing work in Ukraine after 2014.
The government was represented in the plea hearing by assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. DiLorenz and an attorney from Justice Department’s National Security Division, however members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team — namely Andrew Weissmann, who is leading the prosecution of Manafort — were present in the courtroom.
As part of his guilty plea, Patten is cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation. Rather than set a sentencing date at the plea hearing, DiLorenz asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to file a status report in 60 days, suggesting that prosecutors anticipate at least a few weeks of cooperation from Patten.
The guilty plea came late Friday morning, a short time after prosecutors first made any public filings in the case.
Patten pleaded guilty to one charge related to the Foreign Agents Registration Act violation. The offense carries a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.
According to prosecutors, Patten was working to advance the agenda of Ukraine’s Opposition Bloc, a political party made up of the remnants of the pro-Russian Party of Regions, which fell from power in 2014. His company was paid $1 million by a Ukrainian oligarch, known in court docs as “Foreign National B,” from spring 2015 through 2017, prosecutors said. He worked with a Russian national called “Foreign National A,” who he shared 50-50 his company.
Their work included setting up meetings for members of the executive and legislative branches, as well as contacts with the media. Among the legislators with whom they were in contact were members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Patten helped draft talking points for Foreign National B, and assisted Foreign National B in writing op-eds for American publications.
Among those op-eds was one drafted in January 2017 on behalf of Foreign National B raising concerns about Ukraine’s relationship with the incoming administration. The article was shopped around and placed in a national publication in the U.S. that February, prosecutors said at Friday’s hearing.
Asked by Judge Jackson if the prosecutors’ retelling of those events was true, Patten said it was and that he did act as an agent for Foreign National B.
Patten was released on personal recognizance, but will need to surrender his passport and receive court approval to travel outside the Washington, D.C. area. Also as part of his conditions of release, he will need to check in by phone with the probation office weekly and continue seeing a therapist whose care he told the judge he was under.
The case against Patten was not brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, but CNN reported that Mueller referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. Mueller is set to try Manafort in September in Washington, D.C., on charges relating to Manafort’s own alleged failure to register as a foreign agent for work he did in Ukraine.
Patten appears to have had his first proffer meeting — a meeting used to outline for prosecutors what one is prepared to divulge in exchange for a plea deal — in May, 2018.
Correction: Due to an editing error, this article incorrectly stated the date of a status hearing in the case and the fine associated with Patten’s FARA violation.