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Lobbyist linked to Manafort pleads guilty to undisclosed work with foreigners

By
Sam Howard and Danielle Haynes

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- An associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, W. Samuel Patten, pleaded guilty Friday to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist and admitted he helped funnel foreign money to the president's inaugural committee.

Patten was charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act for his work with Ukrainian political party Opposition Bloc and its members from 2014 to 2018, according to a charging document obtained by CNN and posted online.

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In his plea agreement, Patten said he arranged for a U.S. citizen to act as a "straw" buyer to purchase four inauguration tickets for $50,000 for a Ukrainian client. The client wasn't eligible to buy the tickets themselves because the inauguration committee couldn't accept foreign money under Federal Election Commission rules.

Patten then attended an inauguration event with the Ukrainian client, the document said.

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Working alongside an unnamed Russian national, Patten set up meetings with members of Congress and their staff, as well as the executive branch, in 2015, according to the document. He also helped a foreign individual draft op-ed columns intended for the U.S. news media, authorities say.

Patten "knew at the time that he took all of the actions described above that the Foreign Agents Registration Act required him to register in order to engage legally in such United States activities for a foreign principal," the charging document states. "[He] had previously filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act for another client."

Citing an official in the U.S. Attorney's Office, CNN reported Patten's case was referred by special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Daily Beast reported in April that Patten had worked with Konstantin Kilimnik, an accused accomplice of Manafort's that Mueller's team has charged in its investigation.

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Manafort was convicted earlier this month at the first of two trials on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of hiding foreign bank accounts.

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