Ex-Trump campaign deputy Gates gets probation, 45 days in jail

Rick Gates pleaded guilty in February 2018 to lying to the FBI and conspiracy against the US.

    Rick Gates, former campaign aide to US President Donald Trump, arrives for his sentencing at district court in Washington, DC, US [Al Drago/Reuters]
    Rick Gates, former campaign aide to US President Donald Trump, arrives for his sentencing at district court in Washington, DC, US [Al Drago/Reuters]

    A United States federal judge sentenced President Donald Trump's former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates to 36 months of probation and ordered him to serve an intermittent term of 45 days in jail, saying that while she was moved by his extensive cooperation with prosecutors, she still felt some punishment was in order.

    US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she had struggled for some time with how to sentence Gates, who met with investigators more than 50 times and helped the government secure convictions of Republican operatives Paul Manafort and Roger Stone after he pleaded guilty in February 2018 to lying to the FBI and the special counsel's office and conspiring against the US.

    Jackson said that every day she sees people who commit crimes "of a much more limited scope" than Gates' offences who are motivated by drug addictions and poverty, and who then, like Gates, become government witnesses by turning on their own friends and neighbours.

    "Even they often serve some time," Jackson noted.

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    Prosecutors had asked Jackson for a lenient sentence, citing his "extraordinary assistance". 

    "Gates' cooperation has been steadfast despite the fact that the government has asked for his assistance in high profile matters, against powerful individuals, in the midst of a particularly turbulent environment," prosecutors wrote. "Gates received pressure not to cooperate with the government, including assurances of monetary assistance."

    Prior to sentencing, Gates said that he wished "to express to this court that I accept complete responsibility for my actions that have led me here" and that he "greatly" regretted his mistakes. 

    Gates, who held senior posts on the president's campaign team and inauguration committee, was one of a half-dozen associates of Trump charged in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. All six have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial. The three who have already been sentenced have all received prison time. Two others, former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump confidant Stone, are awaiting sentencing.

    Gates was among the first defendants charged in Mueller's investigation. An indictment accused him and Manafort, his one-time mentor and the chairman of the 2016 Trump campaign, of failing to disclose the work they did for then-Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych and of hiding their proceeds from US tax authorities to fund lavish lifestyles and pay for personal expenses.

    Gates pleaded guilty to charges of false statements and conspiracy against the United States, and he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

    Jackson said Gates will be required to pay a $20,000 fine, complete community service and continue cooperating in several still-ongoing investigations.

    Under the sentencing guidelines calculated by the government, he could have faced up nearly five years in prison. 

    SOURCE: News agencies