Manafort was hospitalized in recent days and did not appear in court. Trump has watched the proceedings closely, suggesting he sympathized with Manafort, though the president has not said publicly that he would pardon him.
In announcing his decision, Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley said that New York state law prohibits the type of case brought by Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorney. With limited exceptions, the premise of double jeopardy prevents multiple prosecutions stemming from the same crimes.
“Basically, the law of double jeopardy in New York state provides a very narrow window for prosecution,” Wiley said during Wednesday’s brief court proceeding. He issued a 26-page ruling detailing his finding.
Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance’s office, said litigation will continue.
“We will appeal today’s decision and will continue working to ensure that Mr. Manafort is held accountable for the criminal conduct against the People of New York that is alleged in the indictment,” he said in a statement.
The district attorney’s office alleged that Manafort defrauded three banks — Citizens Bank, Federal Savings Bank and Banc of California — to obtain loans for four properties in New York City and Long Island.
Prosecutors had made technical arguments to explain why the case should beat a double-jeopardy challenge, saying there were “fresh elements” that overlapped with Manafort’s 2018 indictment for bank fraud brought in the Eastern District of Virginia.
The jury in that case was undecided on 10 counts, which were eventually dismissed as part of Manafort’s plea deal. The district attorney’s office argued that seven of those were fair game for Manhattan prosecutors to charge him with corresponding crimes at the state level.
Manafort’s lawyers had argued that he was already charged and convicted of the same crimes in one of his federal cases — the tax and bank fraud case tried in federal court in Alexandria, Va. The other case was tried in federal court in the District.
Wiley, the New York judge, decided that the leftover counts from Virginia were “previously prosecuted” and that a new case based on the same conduct is prohibited. He wrote in his decision that the district attorney’s office disregarded the “clear meaning” of the words of the federal judge in Virginia when he formally dismissed the counts last year.
Although prosecutors demonstrated that there were new elements at play, they failed to show that their case represented “very different kinds of harms or evils,” Wiley wrote.
Manafort was tapped to lead Trump’s 2016 campaign in March of that year and held the role until August, when he resigned amid scrutiny of his past work as a political consultant in Ukraine.
In that time, Manafort had extensive contacts with influential Russians and Ukrainians and remained involved in Ukrainian politics into 2018, after he was indicted by Mueller, authorities have said. He has admitted to violating U.S. law by failing to register as a lobbyist for Ukraine.
Manafort is serving his prison term at a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania.