Lobbyist Who Steered Foreign Funds To Trump Inaugural Sentenced To Probation

WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday sentenced Republican political consultant Samuel Patten to 36 months of probation, 500 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine in a case spun out of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Patten, 47, pleaded guilty in August to communicating with U.S. lawmakers and news media organizations on behalf of a Russia-aligned political party in Ukraine called the Opposition Bloc without disclosing that work to the Justice Department, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), among other offenses.

Patten is a former business partner of Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national indicted by Mueller and accused of having ties to Russian intelligence. In Patten’s guilty plea he also admitted to arranging for a U.S. citizen to act as a straw purchaser to pay $50,000 for four tickets to the inauguration of President Donald Trump on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch, who reimbursed Patten through a Cypriot account.

Patten’s lawyer had asked for a sentence of probation, saying his case was unlike other FARA prosecutions, which have typically involved a lobbyist attempting to conceal the identity of the client and the source of funds.

Prosecutors had not suggested a specific sentence but said leniency was warranted given Patten’s cooperation with the special counsel’s probe.

Federal prosecutors in Washington, who started investigating Patten after receiving a referral from Mueller, said in a court filing on Monday that Patten met or spoke with government investigators on the phone nine times.

He was also willing to serve as a witness in one of two cases against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, who had also worked for the Opposition Bloc. Manafort ultimately pleaded guilty, obviating the need for a trial.

Patten’s case has sparked interest in Washington amid a widening crackdown by the Justice Department on undisclosed lobbying. (Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)