NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - In the wake of Paul Manafort's 47-month prison sentence on tax evasion charges has come criticism and questions about leniency based on the defendant's bank account and skin color.
The judge in Manafort's case said the 69-year-old career lobbyist and former campaign chair for Donald Trump lived an "otherwise blameless life" outside of failing to report $16 million in unreported income from his work in Ukraine.
But many critics and commentators, including some legal experts, are questioning the fairness of that. Anthony Posada of the Legal Aid Society said that justice is not blind and in fact seems to "respond to money and appearance."
Judge T.S. Ellis sentenced former Rep. William Jefferson to 13 years behind bars for shady business dealings in Nigeria, which amounted to the lawmaker stashing $90,000 worth of cash for the vice president of Nigeria in his freezer.
Kalief Browder was a 16-year-old accused of stealing a backpack in New York City. His trial was delayed for three years. He spent two of those years in solitary confinement. The case was dropped but Browder took his own life upon release from Rikers Island.
Judge Ellis attempted to preempt the criticism of his sentence by saying that Manafort will serve "hard time."
"If anybody in this courtroom doesn't think so, go and spend a day in the jail or penitentiary of the federal government, spend a week there," Ellis said. "He has to spend 47 months."
Posada said he begs to differ. He said he wishes the same kind of compassion could be shown system-wide.