Manafort pleads guilty, to cooperate with Mueller investigation

Signalled yesterday, confirmed today (Friday US time) – Paul Manafort, who was soon to face further charges, has entered a guilty plea after a deal of “full cooperation” with  prosecutors investigating whether any Trump associates played a role in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Manafort already faces a possible lengthy prison sentence after being found guilty on eight counts of federal tax and banking crimes last month.

Fox News:  Paul Manafort pleads guilty, agrees to cooperate in deal with Mueller team

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty in federal court Friday as part of a plea agreement that involves cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and allows him to avoid a second trial.

“I plead guilty,” Manafort, 69, told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman in Washington.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the judge that Manafort’s deal includes a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, who are investigating whether any Trump associates played a role in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. That could include interviews with prosecutors and testifying in court.

A defense attorney for Manafort told Fox News the deal includes “full cooperation.”

Manafort, in a trial set to begin Sept. 24, had been facing seven counts of foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering in federal court in Washington.

Manafort faces up to 10 years on these charges in Washington.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing told reporters after the court hearing it was a “tough day” for his client, “who has accepted responsibility.” He said Manafort “wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life.”

The case was brought by Mueller’s team, which is probing potential crimes related to the 2016 election. But Manafort has not been charged with anything related to the campaign.

There were the predictable denials and distancing from Trump spokespeople:

“Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign,” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement to Fox News. “The reason: the president did nothing wrong.”

Bloomberg: Mueller Wins Manafort’s Cooperation in Plea Deal

The White House, which has repeatedly played down Manafort’s role on the campaign, responded to news of his guilt. “This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated,” said Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary.

Perhaps this is because Trump is innocent of any electoral crime. Perhaps thou doth protest too much.

Manafort certainly worked with at least one foreign government (before he worked for Trump).

After a year of withering financial pressure and a jury conviction in another case, Manafort admitted Friday that he laundered more than $30 million earned over a decade while working as a consultant for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, cheated the U.S. government of $15 million in taxes and tampered with a witness.

As part of his plea, Manafort admitted that he conspired to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not telling the Justice Department about a multimillion-dollar campaign to improve the image of Yanukovych and his Party of Regions in Europe and the U.S. Prominent U.S. firms like the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs LLC were hired to help him, along with several European former elected officials.

Manafort organized the European politicians, known as the Hapsburg Group, to lobby U.S. senators in a campaign to defeat a resolution that criticized Yanukovych’s treatment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was convicted and imprisoned. Manafort never told the senators that the lobbyists or Hapsburg Group members were paid by Ukraine.

In May 2013, one Hapsburg Group member met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office. They also met with senior U.S. officials in the executive and legislative branches, according to the filing.

One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on Aug. 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent. He also helped a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch gain access to Trump’s inauguration.

Manafort’s legal team had repeatedly challenged Mueller’s authority to investigate business activities related to Ukraine before joining the Trump campaign. Prosecutors said they had to examine whether Russia-backed politicians and oligarchs served as a back channel to members of the Trump campaign.

The investigation looked at such interactions “before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications,” prosecutors wrote. “And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort’s Ukrainian consulting activities.”

Prosecutors will ask Manafort about his months running Trump’s campaign. In June 2016, he attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which Kremlin-backed attendees promised to offer damaging information about Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended the meeting.

Manafort faced the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. Perhaps he still will, but hoovering over this is the possibility that Trump will pardon him.

As part of his guilty plea, Manafort agreed to brief prosecutors, produce documents and testify if warranted. Asked by the judge whether he understood that his deal with the government required him to cooperate “fully and truthfully,” Manafort replied, “I do.”

Trump may (or may not) be innocent of anything, but some of his family at least may be feeling a tad more nervous now that Manafort has agreed to full cooperation with the Mueller investigation.

More US views (from RealClear Politics):

Lame predictable responses from Trump under increasing pressure

Donald Trump is facing increasing pressures after Paul Manafort and especially Michael Cohen are now guilty of fairly serious crimes, and face years in prison. Manafort was locked up before his trial, and Cohen has made an agreement with prosecutors of a 4-6 year prison sentence.

Manafort has kept a distance between his problems and Trump, and Trump has done likewise.

Not so Cohen, who along with his lawyer has directly implicated Trump in electoral crime. So Trump has been predictable in attacking Cohen on Twitter in response, attack is his usual form of defence.

I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!

A large number of counts, ten, could not even be decided in the Paul Manafort case. Witch Hunt!

The ‘witch hunt’ claims are getting stale. Eight guilty verdicts, on top of other successes, are signs of a successful Mueller investigation so far.

Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!

Either ignorance or lying about the campaign finance violations, and then the usual diversion to another target.

Mueller and various investigators won’t care about what Trump tweets, unless they gather than as further evidence. The President is flailing futilely on Twitter.

Fox News kept cheerleading Trump yesterday on Twitter and via sycophants like Hannity, but also looked at the serious side of what Trump faces.

Their current headline article:

Will Cohen’s bombshell admissions sink Trump? Here’s what top legal experts say

UNCOMMON PLEAS

Will Cohen’s bombshell admissions sink Trump? Here’s what top legal experts say

Michael Cohen’s plea deal chucked a live political grenade into the debate over President Trump’s legal exposure – but that debate is far from settled, as experts clash over whether his implication of the president in campaign finance violations will amount to anything.

The president’s former longtime personal attorney and self-described “fixer” entered a guilty plea with federal prosecutors on Tuesday, admitting to violating campaign finance laws by arranging hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump.

Trump, though, claimed the move to pay off the two women was not a crime — while suggesting such allegations can be settled by fine.

Trump has now notably not denied the payments were made, and has switched to claiming it isn’t a crime and it can be easily settled.

But Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, argued there is little room for interpretation here.

“There is no question that he’s committed a federal crime,” Davis told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday. He also argued that it’s never been settled whether a sitting president can be indicted, despite suggestions to the contrary from Trump allies.

Davis added that his client, under oath on Tuesday, admitted to making the “donations to keep quiet two women” at Trump’s direction.

Mr. Trump wasn’t willing to sign those checks himself. He directed Mr. Cohen to make those hush money payments, [which is] a federal crime,” Davis said. “If Michael Cohen agreed to that, then certainly Donald Trump is guilty of the same crime.”

But Fox found people who backed Trump’s claim.

But former commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, Hans von Spakovsky, said that Cohen’s decision to plead guilty does not necessarily mean Trump violated the law.

“This is not a violation because this was not a campaign-related offense,” Spakovsky told Fox News on Wednesday. “Yes, Cohen pleaded guilty to it, yeah Cohen paid it, but then Cohen was reimbursed by Trump.”

The plea deal states that the payments were in fact meant to influence the election, though that could be argued by Trump’s lawyers if it ever came to that. Spakovsky said Trump had a history of making these kinds of payments before he was a candidate.

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a frequent defender of the president, made a similar argument.

“You have to show that it’s a crime,” he told “Fox & Friends.” He said it’s “not a crime” for a candidate like Trump to contribute to his own campaign, and probably not even a crime to direct someone else to contribute if he plans to pay that back.

Further, Dershowitz said, “The only evidence that the president did anything that might be unlawful … comes from a man who’s admitted to be a liar.”

“There are a lot of barriers,” he said, “We’re far away from [an] impeachable offense or a criminal offense on the part of the president.”

Still, at this stage, it doesn’t look flash for Trump. His denials keep changing as information is revealed.

Who can trust Trump’s claims there was ‘no collusion’. He’s well known as a liar, and has just been proven to have lied again over the hush money.

Richard Painter, former White House chief ethics counsel under former President George W. Bush, said that while Cohen’s guilty plea gives Trump “exposure” to criminal prosecution, these types of cases “can be difficult to win.”

“It is not entirely clear how these cases turn out, as we found out with Edwards,” Painter told Fox News. He added, though, that he felt the Cohen-Trump payments were “more serious” than former President Bill Clinton lying about Monica Lewinsky, as “campaign finance is more important to our democracy than the president lying under oath in a civil case.”

Painter added that while there is “potential criminal liability,” it is “not cut and dry.” He suggested Trump’s problems go beyond Cohen.

“If you had a president with no other legal problems, who just had the Cohen problem, I would say the outcome of a criminal trial for Trump, based on that alone, is a maybe, maybe not situation,” Painter explained.

“But Trump’s problem is not just this. He has the whole Russia thing. He has two big problems. One, is what his own involvement or knowledge of collusion was, and the second, where he has much more exposure, and is digging his own grave, is obstruction of justice.”

The Paul Manafort guilty verdicts were distant enough to Trump’s campaign to be easy to dismiss as just a poor choice of campaign manager – if they were the only thing in the news.

But added to the Cohen please and claims, and all the other guilty please and bargaining, Trump’s legal problems are snowballing. His persistent lying peppers the snowball with stones.

Professor of law at George Washington University Jonathan Turley, though, said Trump could end up an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Cohen matter.

On Wednesday, he agreed that the Cohen plea alone would not make “a particularly strong case,” but suggested there’s more to come.

“You have the president’s lawyer implicating him in a federal crime. How Trump responds to that is going to be very key,” Turley said on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday. “But the Justice Department certifies that they believe these allegations are accurate. That should be quite chilling, because this isn’t some immaculate crime committed by Cohen alone.”

Turley said that federal prosecutors, now, will likely pursue other “collateral or central players.”

This is only an escalation in legal exposure for Trump. The snowball keeps growing, and his tweets are legally impotent, and potentially legally damaging.

Cohen, Manafort guilty, increased jeopardy for Trump

The Jury in the Paula Manafort trial returning eight guilty verdicts was bad for Manafort, who could also face retrial on the other ten charges and has another trial booked in next month on yet more charges.

On it’s own I don’t think it would have been particularly bad for Donald Trump, despite him having had Manafort manage his campaign for three months in 2016. The offending was prior to this association.

But there was a near simultaneous double whammy, with Trump’ ex personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleading guilty to eight charges in an agreement with prosecutors that will ‘limit’ his sentence to somewhere between four and six years in prison.

This on top of the Manafort verdicts looks bad for Trump, with the total whammy amounting to more than the sum of the parts.

And it gets worse, as Cohen has implicated trump in illegal actions during the election campaign.

Fox News: Michael Cohen admits violating campaign finance laws in plea deal, agrees to 3-5 year sentence

The precise range of sentence varies in reports, but it’s somewhere around that. For someone with no priors, used to a good standard of living and with a young family, that is a substantial penalty.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, admitted Tuesday to violating federal campaign finance laws by arranging hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump.

In entering the plea, Cohen did not specifically name the two women or even Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an “unnamed candidate.” But the amounts and the dates all lined up with the payments made to Daniels and McDougal.

In a statement, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said: “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”

Guilani seems to be fibbing or mistaken. Trump wasn’t named as co-conspirator in court, but he was by Cohen’s lawyer afterwards.

Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said his client had pleaded guilty “so that his family can move on to the next chapter.

“This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump,” Davis added. “Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Separately, Davis told Fox News that Cohen’s involvement in the Trump-Russia investigation does not end with the plea deal, but in fact “it is only the beginning.”

Davis added that Cohen will speak with whoever is investigating the president to make sure the truth about Trump gets out.

Cohen has been labelled a rat by Trump supporters, so they are obviously concerned about where this might go.

MSNBC:  Cohen more than happy to tell Mueller all that he knows: attorney

Lanny Davis, attorney for former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen, tells Rachel Maddow that Cohen has knowledge that should be of interest to Robert Mueller and he is happy to tell Mueller what he knows…

“Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows”.

“Not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election, which the Trump Tower meeting was all about, but also knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”

So Trump may be sweating on that for a while, until Cohen reveals everything he knows, and until Mueller plays his next legal hand. It looks certain that this saga is far from at it’s conclusion.

This puts Trump in potentially very tricky position. I doubt he will be charged or any serious attempt will be made to impeach him while president, but it must be getting increasingly difficult for Republicans to continue supporting Trump or tolerating his fecklessness and recklessness, especially those who face mid term elections in November.

There will be some interest in how Trump responds on Twitter overnight. He has been becoming more verbose with his claims, fibs and attacks lately – this could push him further, or he could heed advice and at least become somewhat more cautious.

Guilty until proven innocent?

Suggesting the burden of proof be reversed to guilty unless proven innocent is getting into very dangerous legal territory.

RNZ: Call to shift burden of proof to rape-accused

Labour’s sexual violence spokesperson, Mrs Williams has called for radical reform of the sexual justice system which would see rape accusers believed by police as a starting point.

Every accuser should be given the benefit of doubt and believed when investigating an alleged crime of any sort, unless there is good reason to disbelieve them.

But taking that approach in court is a much riskier approach.

This would place the burden of proof on the accused – directly contradicting the philosophy of “innocent until proven guilty”.

Ms Williams said many victims of rape do not report it because they have little faith in the justice system.

She said the country needed to have a discussion about how to address that power imbalance.

Seeking better ways of conducting investigations and prosecutions would be the best way to deal with it.

Now, I know that runs up against ‘innocent until proven guilty’, and that would be one of the issues that we’d really have to consider long and hard, but I’m of the view that we have to make some changes.”

Poto Williams said she didn’t yet know how the policy would be implemented.

“I don’t pretend to have the legal nous in which to do this, but I’m comfortable that there is a way that we can work our way through this.

So Williams is posing the possibility. It doesn’t look lioke being anywhere near Labour policy.

“But at the end of the day we cannot, in all good conscience, say to victims of rape and sexual abuse, ‘your case will be ignored.’

“One thing we have to do is find out the numbers of false allegations that have been made, because that will be one of the things people will be really concerned about – that someone who’s falsely accused of sexual abuse will be put through a process that is completely unfair.”

It’s also long established that it’s unfair to presume guilt unless proven innocent.

A Hawke’s Bay barrister, Jonathan Krebs, said contradicting the principle of innocent until proven guilty in New Zealand’s justice system would be unthinkable.

“The rule about the prosecution having to prove offending and allegations beyond reasonable doubt is zealously held,” he said.

“Any proposal that a complainant of any sort of offending should be deemed to be telling the truth and an accused person must prove their innocence would be such a radical departure that I don’t think that would gain very much support at all.”

It’s hard to guess why Williams is raising this. It’s unlikely to go anywhere. Surely Labour won’t consider it seriously as policy.

Rachinger pleads guilty

Ben Rachinger was due to start a scheduled five day trial today in the Slater/Standard hacking case, but has instead entered a guilty plea.

Stuff: Former Whale Oil associate Ben Rachinger admits deception charge

Benjamin Rachinger, 28, appeared in the Manukau District Court on Monday for what was supposed to be his judge-alone trial on a charge of obtaining money from Slater.

Instead Rachinger pleaded guilty to the charge and a sentencing date was set for March next year.

Earlier this year Slater completed diversion after admitting he hired Rachinger, an IT worker, to break into The Standard blog site.

No hack actually took place.

The charges against the pair came after Rachinger made public claims in January 2015 that he had been paid to hack The Standard, sparking a police investigation.

The sentencing will be interesting. Rachinger had claimed he had been also acting as a police informant. Slater was controversially granted diversion for the part he played in this despite previous convictions.

Lynn Prentice has posted on this prior to the guilty plea: Whaleoil and Rachinger – the final chapter starts

UPDATE:More details from Newshub: Slater-hired hacker pleads guilty to fraud (it wasn’t fraud, it was ‘obtaining be deception’).

IT consultant Ben Rachinger, 28, was hired by Mr Slater to hack into left-wing website The Standard, with the aim of embarrassing the Labour Party.

Mr Rachinger was paid $1000 by Mr Slater, but never carried out the hack they discussed. Instead he blew the whistle to TV3’s The Nation, telling the programme he was asked by Mr Slater to figure out who The Standard’s contributors were and record their IP and email addresses.

Police alleged Mr Rachinger never intended to follow through with the promise he made to Slater. He was charged with obtaining $1000 by deception for saying he could and would hack the site.

A summary of facts shows Mr Slater believed Labour politicians were writing for The Standard and posting their views anonymously online.

He offered Rachinger $5000 – paying him $1000 up front – believing the hack on The Standard’s servers would uncover evidence of links to Labour.

Mr Slater admitted his part in the plot and was discharged without conviction in May.

Mr Rachinger is also seeking a discharge without conviction, and told Newshub outside court he’s looking forward to the chance to put the matter behind him.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/slater-hired-hacker-pleads-guilty-to-fraud-2016121211

 

 

Unsurprising news – Boston murderer found guilty

There’s lot of attention to the guilty verdicts for the ‘Boston bomber’ – the terrorist who murdered innocent people.

I’d have been very surprised if he wasn’t found guilty. But this news is an ‘oh yeah’ sort of thing.

It will be of a bit more interest if he is given the death penalty. I have no sympathy for someone who callously murders but in general I don’t like the idea of killing for killing.

Silence on the Sepuloni case

Last week (25 February) it was announced that charges had been laid against the mother Labour’ spokesperson for social development Carmel Sepuloni. Carmel was stood down from the role.

The Labour Party has stood down its social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni – following charges of benefit fraud being laid against her mother.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the charges against her mother meant Ms Sepuloni had a conflict of interest in the social development portfolio.

Mr Little said she would remain Junior Whip and remain at number seven on his front bench.

Ms Sepuloni had assured him she did not know her mother was facing charges until today, he said.

Yesterday the court case was reported, which included guilty please from Sepuloni (senior) and her partner.

Mother of Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni admits $100K benefit fraud

The mother of Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni and her partner have admitted 23 benefit fraud charges totalling nearly $100,000.

Beverley Anne Sepuloni and partner Michael Charles Rangi entered guilty pleas to the charges, committed over more than a decade until last year, when they appeared before Judge Allan Roberts in the New Plymouth District Court today.

The charges arose from neither defendant informing government agencies that they commenced a relationship in October, 2003.

The court heard that Rangi was on the dole and also getting an accommodation supplement, while Sepuloni was on a sickness benefit and getting an income-related rental rate for her Housing NZ house.

Sepuloni faced 19 charges of defrauding the State for a total of $33,856 and Rangi four charges totalling $62,351.

Carmel Sepuloni will remain stood down from the social development role until after sentencing but is expected to be reappointed.

When last week’s news broke there was a post at The Standard – Carmel stood down for possible conflict of interest.

The prompt action of Andrew Little in standing Carmel down was mentioned, and I agree that that was a refreshingly good look.

However many comments were trying to blame Paula Bennett for making the charges public – but they would obviously have come out at last week’s and this week’s court appearances anyway. Sepuloni is not a common name.

Ed:

Pete got the wrong end of the stick. Obviously the thought was that perhaps Paula Bennett had been advised of an upcoming prosecution, and seeing a fairly unusual name made further enquiries. If that is the case (and it may of course not be), I hope the reporter does let Carmel know where the information came from . . .

DoublePlusGood:

I think it’s also possible that Bennett ordered some digging on the Sepuloni name, and went after the mother.

They went to the extent of talking of using OIA’s to try and find blame. lprent:

Of more interest, as pointed out above, will be when the political arm of the National party became aware of it from the WINZ staff, and who they told. After all we have the horrible Paula Bennett and her attitudes to spreading private information from WINZ to reporters as an example.

OIA time…

There were many comments on themes of National and Bennett being to blame for something.

And there were also assumptions of innocence. Murray Rawshark:

Standing down is the right thing to do in these circumstances, even though her mum is most likely innocent. Many cases of so-called benefit fraud arise because WINZ are so useless and incompetent.

But yesterday since the guilty verdicts were announced what has been talked about on this at The Standard?

Nothing. Nada. Funkstille. Silence.

Nomm to testify against Dotcom

After giving himself up in the USA, admitting guult and being sentenced – see  Mega-admission of Megaupload guilt, rapid sentence for Nomm – Andrus Nõmm is also set to testify against Kim Dotcom and co-defendants if/when they are extradited.

NZ Herald calls it Blow to Dotcom as co-accused pleads guilty.

Kim Dotcom’s long-running legal battle has suffered a blow after one of his co-accused pleaded guilty – and will now testify against his former colleagues.

In one of the biggest developments since Dotcom’s Coatesville compound was raided three years ago, computer programmer Andrus Nomm pleaded guilty to internet piracy in a Virginia court on Friday.

The 36-year-old struck a plea bargain deal with the US Justice Department, admitting he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files. Nomm will serve a year and a day behind bars.

As part of Nomm’s plea bargain, he agreed his co-accused, including Megaupload founder Dotcom, knew Megaupload.com and other sites the group operated contained copyright-infringing materials and they were making money from it.

Nomm said he brought up copyright infringement to colleagues, noting files he was sent to review for errors had FBI piracy warnings.

Dotcom and his lawyer Ira Rothken are trying to play down this development.

His attorney, Ira Rothken, told the Herald on Sunday the guilty plea did not serve as a precedent.

“If Mr Nomm testifies in a truthful manner … we expect that his testimony will help the defence.

“It’s a plea bargain of convenience and the Department of Justice seems to have used this as a Hollywood-style publicity stunt to try to elevate the status of their case.”

But it’s also a plea-bargain of significant inconvenience to Dotcom’s defence. It may also put pressure on other defendants.

Mega-admission of Megaupload guilt, rapid sentence for Nomm

After surrendering to the US authiortities in Virginia last week – see A plea deal against Dotcom? – ex-Megaupload programmer Andrus Nõmm has pleased guilty and been sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

This isn’t a good sign for Kim Dotcom and the other accused who are still fighting extradition.

Ars Technica reports: Megaupload programmer pleads guilty, sentenced to a year in prison

Andrus Nõmm “was aware that copyright-infringing content was stored” on-site.

Federal prosecutors have achieved their first guilty plea and prison sentence in the Megaupload criminal case that has dragged on for over three years.

Andrus Nõmm—who was arrested this week in Virginia after years of fighting extradition in the Netherlands—pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison, according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice on Friday.

American criminal charges against the six co-defendants related to Megaupload, including Kim Dotcom, still remain pending. All of the Megaupload defendants (most notably founder Kim Dotcom) have been battling extradition and fighting the government’s case from outside US borders. (Ars profiled Dotcom’s extradition efforts last month.)

Prosecutors also added that Nõmm “agreed to waive his extradition hearing in the Netherlands, where he was arrested in January 2012, and plead guilty in the United States.”

And Nomm has agreed with prosecutirs that he knew that Megaupload were knowingly flaunting copyright. The Department of Justice press release details:

In court papers, Nomm agreed that the harm caused to copyright holders by the Mega Conspiracy’s criminal conduct exceeded $400 million. He further acknowledged that the group obtained at least $175 million in proceeds through their conduct.

Megaupload.com had claimed that, at one time, it accounted for four percent of total Internet traffic, having more than one billion total visits, 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors.

In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Nomm admitted that he was a computer programmer who worked for the Mega Conspiracy from 2007 until his arrest in January 2012.

Nomm further admitted that, through his work as a computer programmer, he was aware that copyright-infringing content was stored on the websites, including copyright protected motion pictures and television programs, some of which contained the “FBI Anti-Piracy” warning.

Nomm also admitted that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites. Despite his knowledge in this regard, Nomm continued to participate in the Mega Conspiracy.

Even a year in prison for someone not previously acquainted with criminal processes is a major penalty, but if Dotcom is extradited and charged and found guilty he coukld expect a heftier sentence.

It can be guessed that Nomm has plea bargained to reduce his sentence, probably in return for hammering the bigger fish.