COHEN SENTENCING | UPDATE: Trump's ex-lawyer to pay $1.39M in restitution


NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's once-devoted lawyer and all-around fixer, was sentenced today to three years in prison after telling a federal judge his "blind loyalty" to Trump led him to cover up the president's "dirty deeds."

Standing alone at the defense table, Cohen, 52, shook his head slightly and closed his eyes as the judge pronounced the sentence for crimes that included lying about his boss' business dealings in Russia and funneling hush money to two women who said they had sex with Trump – payments that both Cohen and federal prosecutors said were made at the president's direction.

Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump's circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved modest credit for his decision over the summer to admit guilt and cooperate in the federal investigation of efforts by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election, but his assistance "does not wipe the slate clean."

"Somewhere along the way Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass," the judge said. "As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better."

The judge also ordered Cohen to pay $1.39 million restitution, forfeit $500,000 and pay $100,000 in fines.

The prison sentence was in line with what federal prosecutors asked for. Sentencing guidelines called for about four to five years behind bars, and the government asked in court papers that Cohen be given only a slight break. He was ordered to surrender March 6 and left court without comment.

"It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light," Cohen, who once boasted he would "take a bullet" for Trump, told the judge before the sentence came down. "Time and time again, I thought it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than listen to my voice."

Cohen got choked up near the end of his remarks and paused briefly to compose himself. His daughter, seated behind him, sobbed throughout. As he returned to his seat, he ran his hand across her cheek.

Cohen's lawyers had argued for leniency, saying he decided to cooperate with investigators rather than hold out for a possible pardon.

"He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country," defense attorney Guy Petrillo told the judge.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses. In the part of the case with greater political repercussions, he also admitted breaking campaign finance laws in arranging payments in the waning days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

12:07 p.m.

NEW YORK — Media sources are reporting that President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen was given a sentence of 36 months in prison.

He has pleaded guilty to dodging taxes, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws.

This is a breaking news story. Watch Vindy.com for updates.

12 p.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen says his “blind loyalty” to Trump led Cohen to “cover up his dirty deeds.”

Cohen said at his sentencing Wednesday that he takes “full responsibility” for the crimes he admitted committing. But he went on to say his allegiance to Trump led him “to take a path of darkness instead of light.”

Cohen has pleaded guilty to dodging taxes, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws.

Cohen, who used to be the president’s self-described fixer, could get about four to five years in prison.

His lawyer is arguing for leniency, noting Cohen’s cooperation with prosecutors investigating whether Russians attempted to influence Trump’s campaign.

But a prosecutor on the case against Cohen says Cohen’s crimes showed a pattern of deceit, brazenness and greed.

11:03 a.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors are talking to the judge overseeing the sentencing of Michael Cohen, a lawyer who made his career protecting President Donald Trump, asking for leniency.

A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about the president's past business dealings in Russia.

Cohen, 52, came into the courthouse at 11 a.m. today in Manhattan for a sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge William Pauley III.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, he stands to get about four years in prison, but his lawyers have argued for leniency.

Some of Cohen's crimes, they said, were motivated by over enthusiasm for Trump, rather than any nefarious intent.

He has pleaded guilty to misleading Congress about his work on a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow, hiding the fact that he continued to speak with Russians about the proposal well into the presidential campaign.

Cohen also pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws by helping orchestrate payments to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who said they had sexual encounters with Trump while he was married.

For weeks, Cohen's legal strategy appeared to revolve around persuading the court that he is a reformed man who abandoned longtime friendships and gave up his livelihood when he decided to cut ties with the president and speak with federal investigators. Cohen's lawyers have said in court filings that their client could have stayed on the president's side and angled himself for a presidential pardon.

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