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Dutch lawyer sentenced in Mueller probe, gets 30 days in prison

Dutch lawyer sentenced in Mueller probe, gets 30 days in prison

WASHINGTON ― A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Alex van der Zwaan to 30 days in prison, a $20,000 fine and two months' supervised release, making him the first person to be sentenced as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in the 2016 election.

Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Trump campaign official Rick Gates and that Gates had spoken with an unidentified individual.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson also ordered Van der Zwaan to pay a $20,000 fine and undergo two months of supervised release upon his release from prison.

Mueller's team revealed the existence of the August 2, 2017, memo in filings seeking to counter arguments by Manafort's attorneys that the special counsel probe has exceeded its legal authority.

Alex van der Zwann, 33, is the first person to be sentenced in the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The judge said van der Zwaan, unlike some defendants who have come before her, possesses the financial and emotional resources to weather hard times.

Four of the other defendants - Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and California resident Richard Pinedo - have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller.

But van der Zwaan admitted to lying about those contacts during a December 1 interview with Mueller's team.

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The subject of the recorded phone call, prosecutors said, was a 2012 report prepared by van der Zwaan's law firm about the jailing of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Prosecutors said he talked with Gates about that work.

Alex van der Zwaan.

During a November 3 interview with Mueller's investigators, van der Zwaan claimed that he last spoke to Gates in August 2016 and to the former Russian spy in 2014.

A Dutch lawyer has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine in connection to the Russian Federation investigation.

It's unclear when the next person charged in the Mueller probe might face sentencing, but the fact that van der Zwaan got jail time suggests they are likely to face stiff penalties.

Gates later pleaded guilty; Manafort is still fighting indictments returned by federal grand juries in Washington, DC, and Virginia.

Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor with Mueller's office, disputed the defence's characterization of van der Zwaan's cooperation, saying he returned to the United States after his first interview because he was compelled to do so by a grand jury subpoena.

Prosecutors argued that their investigation would only "naturally follow the money trail from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting activities", work that resulted in the criminal charges.