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It was a far cry from the 12 to 25 years he could have been ordered to serve behind bars.?
Many outlined cases in which defendants?accused of lesser crimes were given much harsher punishments. Some used the case as a way to display the racial disparities?within the criminal justice system.
Others targeted?U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who?had been critical?of prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller's office. During Manafort's sentencing on Thursday,?Ellis said had committed "serious, very serious crimes," but he also said Manafort had "lived an otherwise blameless life and earned the admiration of many."?
The issue sparked debate on how much time President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman should spend behind bars and why the sentence was considerably below what sentencing?guidelines called for and what prosecutors had requested.?
But data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission for 2017?shows that Manafort is not alone in receiving a lesser sentence.
In the Eastern District of Virginia, where Manafort was sentenced, about a?quarter of defendants were sentenced below federal?guidelines.?The data for the 2017?fiscal year shows that about two-thirds of defendants?received?sentences?that fit within the guidelines.
For fraud cases, in particular, the Eastern District was?harsher on defendants?than the national average. Defendants?were given 36 months in prison on average, compared to?the national average?of 24 months.
Data shows the Eastern District took up 126 fraud cases in 2017.
Of course, handing down a sentence is complex and judges consider an array of information, including who was harmed, any previous crimes and the sheer size of the crime.
In explaining his sentencing decision, Ellis said "it is important to avoid unwarranted disparity" among comparable white-collar cases.
As an example, he cited a previous case that involved a more substantial loss to victims. In that case, over which Ellis also presided, he sentenced the defendant to seven months in prison.
Ellis also raised pointed questions about whether Manafort deserved some credit for cooperation with prosecutors in the related criminal case in the District of Columbia where he agreed to plead guilty and assist the special counsel in the ongoing inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Prosecutor Greg Andres told Ellis that Manafort deserved no credit, describing how the cooperation agreement collapsed when Manafort repeatedly lied to prosecutors and to a federal grand jury.
In the 50 hours Manafort spent with prosecutors as part of the cooperation agreement, Andres said Manafort provided no useful information. The prosecutor said Manafort either provided information prosecutors already knew or lied.
Ellis also questioned whether Manafort intended to defraud bank authorities on a $5.5 million loan application by not disclosing the existence of a separate outstanding loan, suggesting that it might have been an oversight by a "very busy man."
The notions did not sit well with others, including Democratic lawmakers.
"My view on Manafort sentence: Guidelines there for a reason. His crimes took place over years and he led far from a 'blameless life.' Crimes committed in an office building should be treated as seriously as crimes committed on a street corner," Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a 2020 presidential candidate. "Can't have two systems of justice!"
The difference in Manafort's sentence from that of someone who commits a drug or gun violation was noted by many attorneys, public defenders and former federal prosecutors on social media Thursday.?
Scott Hechinger, who serves as a public defender in New York for the Brooklyn Defender Services, outlined an array of cases he and his colleagues have worked, including a client that he said on Wednesday was offered a sentence by prosecutors of between 36 to 72 months for stealing $100 in quarters from a residential laundry room.?
He said the offer was a result of the crime being considered a second-degree felony in New York, where the minimum sentence is listed as 3 1/2 years.?
For context on Manafort’s 47 months in prison, my client yesterday was offered 36-72 months in prison for stealing $100 worth of quarters from a residential laundry room.— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) March 8, 2019
Hechinger said he was not advocating for harsher sentences or that Manafort should serve more time but?wanted to showcase "the outrageous disparity" between Manafort's case and that of poor people of color. He added he wished?"my clients received [the] same treatment as the privileged few."?
Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, said on Twitter that Manafort's sentence was one "defense lawyers dream of."?
"It's the kind of departure that's FAR more likely to be enjoyed by the sort of person who commits crimes with banks and wires than drugs or guns," he tweeted.
Also, White added that Ellis' leniency?wasn't a sign of bias.
"Many federal judges always despised the Sentencing Guidelines, because it limits what they see as their proper absolute discretion to choose a sentence," White wrote, adding that Ellis has been a "strong critic of mandatory minimum drug and gun sentences."?
In addition to 47 months in prison, Ellis ordered Manafort to pay a $50,000 fine and approximately $24 million in restitution, and to spend an additional three years on federal supervision. Ellis said the nine months Manafort has already spent in jail should count against his total sentence.
Ellis' decision is not the end for Manafort. He will be sentenced again next week in a related case in Washington where he faces an additional 10 years in prison after pleading?guilty to conspiracy charges for failing to report his lobbying work in Ukraine and tampering with witnesses.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Brad Heath and Kristine Phillips
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Was Paul Manafort's sentence too light? Here's how it compares with other cases