Russia inquiry: Ex-Skadden lawyer receives 30-day sentence

April 9, 2018 Former Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom lawyer Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced on Tuesday to 30 days in prison. The sentence was for lying to investigators during a special counsel inquiry conducted regarding Russia’s interference in the United States 2016 presidential election. Van der Zwaan also received a $20,000 fine.

Van der Zwaan admitted to deceiving investigators during interviews conducted in November concerning the contracts of a Ukrainian businessman with alleged ties to the Russian operation, identified as Konstantin V. Kilimnik, as well as those of former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia considered her sentence of the Dutch lawyer light, stating that van der Zwaan “knew better,” and that a fine without jail time would not be in accordance with the severity of his lies to the authorities.

Manafort and Gates first made contact with the former Skadden lawyer when he was assigned by the firm to work with the Trump campaign officials on paperwork defending their client, former pro-Russia Ukrainian president Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was under fire for prosecuting and imprisoning a political opponent.

Manafort and Gates were both charged with money laundering among other financial crimes as they pertain to the pair’s consulting work in Ukraine. Gates has pleaded guilty to the financial fraud as well as lying in the investigation, whereas Manafort pleaded not guilty.

Days after Manafort and Gates’ indictments, van der Zwaan was questioned by the federal prosecutors and he claimed he had not had any significant conversations with either of the campaign officials in 2016. He has since admitted that he had several conversations with both about the very criminal charges they currently face, which at the time were seen as a potential threat.

Judge Jackson was unwavering when presented with van der Zwaan’s statement of contrition, which she deemed “lip service.” Though despite her tough words, the 30-day sentence doesn’t come close to the five-year prison term the crime of telling falsehoods to federal authorities carries.

Though the location of van der Zwaan’s sentence is yet unclear, it is possible he will spend it in the District of Columbia jail. At the end he will be released to collect his passport and fly home to his pregnant wife in London.

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