ALEXANDRIA, Va. â€” A federal judge ramped up the legal pressure Thursday on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, setting a July 10 trial date here on charges of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in bank loans.
Manafort, who already faces a separate September trial in Washington related to his work for a pro-Russia political faction in Ukraine, also was ordered to submit to additional electronic monitoring as a condition of his release in Virginia.
â€œThe only reason Iâ€™m limiting his freedom is his risk of flight,â€ U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said during Manafortâ€™sÂ first appearance on the 18-count indictment here on charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and failure to register overseas bank accounts â€” alsoÂ linked to his work in Ukraine.Â
Manafort entered a plea of not guilty to the charges, through his attorney Kevin Downing.
Under terms of his release in Virginia, Manafort was ordered to wear a second global positioning bracelet, in addition to the one he wears as a condition of his pre-trial release in Washington.
Citing Manafortâ€™s significant wealth, Ellis said the former campaign chairman â€œmanifestlyâ€ represented a flight risk in partÂ because of â€œthe substantial period of incarcerationâ€ he faced if convicted.
Ellis also imposed stricter conditions of home confinement then those ordered by U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson in Washington.
Ellis said Manafort would only be permitted to leave his Alexandria home to confer with his lawyers, for medical emergencies and once-a-week religious services. On occasion, Jackson has allowed Manafort to travel outside of Virginia, including to attend the recent funeral of his father-in-law in New York.Â
Downing had argued for more time to prepare for trial in the case, at one point quipping that his â€œrosy glassesâ€ preferred a date in November.
â€œYou need to go back to the optometrist,â€ Ellis shot back.
Facing charges in two federal jurisdictions as part ofÂ special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Manafort now confronts the challenge alone.
Last month, former business partner and Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates, who had been charged with Manafort in both cases, pleaded guilty.
As part of his deal with Mueller, Gates also has agreed to cooperate with the continuing inquiry.
In the Virginia case, prosecutors allege that Manafort funneled millions of dollars in income from their work in Ukraine into foreign bank accounts, which were concealed from U.S. tax authorities.
Prosecutors assert that Manafort “used his overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income.”
On Thursday, Andrew Weissmann, Mueller’s deputy, told the judge that prosecutors preferred to move forward on the Virginia case first, estimatingÂ that it would take between eight to 10 days to complete, and requireÂ up to 25 government witnesses.
Arguing for an even earlierÂ trial date in May, Weissmann said the case was not complicated, a claim that Downing and Ellis disputed.
“I think you’re wrong,” Ellis said. “It is.”