A business associate of a key figure in the investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty Friday to failing to register as a foreign agent.
W. Samuel Patten, 47, was charged with one count of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act for failing to register with the Justice Department, according to the four-page charging document from Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiLorenzo. Later Friday morning, Patten pleaded guilty. His sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Patten's case was initially under investigation by the Special Counsel's Office before being referred over to the Justice Department.
As part of his work for the Ukrainians, Patten contacted and attempted to meet with members of Congress and their staff in an effort "to promote the interests" of his clients in Ukraine, according to court documents.
Prosecutors with the Justice Department's national security division and the US attorney's office in the District contended that Patten formed a company with a Russian national, identified only as "Foreigner A", to engage in lobbying and political consulting services. Kilimnik has been identified in filings as having worked for the Russian military's intelligence service known as the GRU. He has denied that in interviews with reporters.
Patten entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the same judge who's overseeing Manafort's money laundering and obstruction of justice trial in Washington. The two also ghostwrote opinion pieces directed at an American audience.
The funds were allegedly paid via an offshore account in Cyprus from a "prominent Ukraine oligarch" who is an Opposition Bloc member.
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As part of his lobbying work, he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the US said.
Patten's work continued through Donald Trump's surprise election win. The client wasn't eligible to buy the tickets themselves because the inauguration committee couldn't accept foreign money under Federal Election Commission rules. The individual paid $50,000 for the tickets, after receiving the same sum from a company controlled by Patten and an unnamed Russian national. From 2014 until now, according to Bloomberg, Patten lobbied on behalf of a Ukrainian political party, and on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch.
Kilimnik and Manafort, meanwhile, have been indicted on allegations tied to their own work in Ukraine.
The charges against Patten come after Ryan Dickey and Brian Richardson, a pair of "relatively junior" special counsel prosecutors, have left Mueller's team.
At the time Mueller filed the witness-tampering charges against Manafort, he also filed similar charges against Konstantin Kilimnik, who served as Manafort's point man in Ukraine.
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Patten's plea agreement, which includes cooperating with Mueller, raises the prospect Patten will be called to testify against Manafort, who was found guilty by a Virginia jury last week on bank and tax fraud charges and faces a second trial in Washington next month.