A former associate of Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to a lobbying violation and agreed to cooperate with the USA, giving prosecutors access to insights from a longtime global political operative whose Russian business partner has already been indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
The court filing also detailed Patten's alleged work with another person, identified only as Foreigner B. Patten helped the person draft op-ed articles and get them published in US media in February 2017.
Paul Manafort's former associate was also head of International Republican Institute's Moscow office from 2001 to 2004, worked with the late opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, served as Eurasian program director at a Russia-focused advocacy group, and worked as a legislative adviser and speechwriter for two USA senators. Manafort was also convicted this month on bank- and tax-fraud charges in Virginia.
Federal prosecutors previously have indicted Kilimnik and Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, on charges of witness tampering in Manafort's criminal conspiracy and money-laundering case pending in the District.
According to the criminal information filed by Liu, beginning in 2014 to the present, Patten worked with a Russian national, listed as "Foreigner A", on lobbying and political consulting services, forming a company together in the United States.
The lobbyist, Sam Patten, 47, admitted that he failed to register in the U.S.as a foreign agent for his work lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.
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Patten also drafted an op-ed for Foreigner B that sought to address concerns about Ukraine's ability to work with the Trump administration.
The case was brought by the USA attorney's office in Washington and not by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose team has been investigating potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, referred Patten's case to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
Patten and Konstantin Kilimnik, another Manafort associate, launched what is believed to be "Company A" in 2015.
"I would like to plead guilty", Patten told Jackson during a hearing.
In court, Patten conveyed the air of a solemn man aware of what he had done. The straw purchaser, who is not named, then was reimbursed by Patten's company, which in turn received the same amount from Foreigner B via an offshore bank account in Cyprus.
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Patten's work continued through Donald Trump's surprise election win.
Patten, who served in the State Department under George W. Bush, headed the Moscow office of the International Republican Institute in the early 2000s. She noted that she asked him "point blank" if he worked for foreign interests in the United States and he would only respond that he "represented clients outside of the U.S".
Manafort later did consulting work for Opposition Bloc, which was set up by former members of the Party of Regions and their financial backers after Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014 amid mass street protests. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but both sides agreed there is no recommended sentence under federal guidelines. A sentencing date has not been set.
Patten violated FARA by contacting members of Congress, the executive branch, and the media without disclosing that work to the Justice Department, according to the documents.
A prosecutor from the DC US Attorney's Office read the charging document made public Friday before the hearing nearly word for word.
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