U.S. associate of indicted Russian pleads guilty, to cooperate with Mueller

U.S. associate of indicted Russian pleads guilty, to cooperate with Mueller

Samuel Patten, a longtime Washington operative and associate of a Russian-Ukrainian man indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has admitted to lobbying for a Ukrainian political party and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Patten was scheduled to appear before a federal judge on Friday morning for an arraignment.

The charges are spelled out in a criminal information, which often precedes a guilty plea.

Manafort was recently convicted on eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts.

If the name Konstantin Kilimnik sounds familiar, that's probably because it was mentioned nearly in the same breath as the news the Manafort was hit with witness tampering charges.

Kilimnik is not referred to by name in the court papers filed on August 31, which state only that Patten worked with a Russian national on political consulting, identified as Foreigner A. But the details match up with much of what is known about Kilimnik's work in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Prosecutors said Patten formed a company with the Russian national and it received $1,000,000 for its work advising Ukraine's Opposition Bloc party, including a prominent Ukraine oligarch.

He added no new details when describing Patten's criminal offense, though he added the words a couple of times that Patten "was working as a foreign agent of the opposition bloc". Andrew Weissmann, one of the lead Mueller team attorneys in the Manafort prosecution, was also in the courtroom Friday during Patten's appearance.

The topic came up a year later in January 2018 when Patten testified before the Senate intelligence committee as part of its investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with Trump associates. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the felony charge.

Patten admitted to arranging for a United States citizen to act as a straw purchaser to pay $50,000 for four tickets to the inauguration of President Donald Trump on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch, who reimbursed Patten through a Cypriot account. He was released on his own recognizance Friday without a sentencing date. Patten told the publication that his work for Cambridge Analytica was separate from the work of his consulting firm.

Patten said a year ago that Kilimnik had been essential to Manafort's Ukraine operation, which had been perceived by allies and opponents alike as the savviest of the American consulting operations working in the country. Mr. Patten and Mr. Kilimnik created a company called Begemot Ventures International in February, 2015, according to corporate records filed in Washington. Also in attendance was Scott Claffee, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department's National Security Division.

Patten violated FARA by contacting members of Congress, the executive branch, and the media without disclosing that work to the Justice Department, according to the documents.

The 35-minute court proceeding was sparsely attended by members of the press and court employees, yet members of Mueller's special counsel's office filled a front row of seats.