Dutch lawyer sentenced in Mueller probe

A Dutch lawyer tied to former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates who admitted to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller's team was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine. Alex van der Zwaan is the first person to be sentenced in Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 5:49 AM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 5:51 AM

A Dutch lawyer tied to former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates became the first person to be sentenced in Robert Mueller's investigation when a federal judge sentenced him on Tuesday to spend 30 days in prison and pay a $20,000 fine after he admitted to lying to investigators.

Alex van der Zwaan, who worked with Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort while he practiced law at a large international firm, admitted to lying and failing to turn over emails to Mueller's team in February.

He was wrapped into the special counsel's investigation last fall after his firm, Skadden Arps, began to cooperate in an investigation of Manafort and Gates' alleged contact with Ukrainians and Russians during the 2016 election. He lied in his first voluntary interview with investigators in November, and according to both Judge Amy Berman Jackson and prosecutor Andrew Weissmann on Tuesday, was "caught red-handed."

Van der Zwaan's communications with Gates and a person with Russian intelligence ties became important to the special counsel's broader investigation, as it pursues crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mueller's team has said.

Van der Zwaan "took steps to ingratiate himself with" Gates and Manafort and hid that from his law firm, "and that's why he lied," Jackson said Tuesday before she delivered his sentence.

"This is not something that happened to him. This is something he did," she added. "He put his personal interest ahead of the interest of justice."

Van der Zwaan's wealth and family connections were apparent as he awaited his sentence during the two-hour court appearance. Though he slouched with his arm on the defense table, pursed his lips and stroked his chin throughout, the 33-year-old lawyer spruced up his navy suit with cufflinks, a teal tie and white pocket square and slicked-back hair. He was accompanied by about eight lawyers and supporters, including his father.

"What I did was wrong," he said to the judge, reading quietly from a single sheet of paper after his defense attorney and the prosecutor each spoke. "I apologize to the court for my conduct. I apologize to my wife and family."

Van der Zwaan had faced a maximum of five years in prison and a quarter-million-dollar fine for lying to investigators, though federal recommendations had put his likely sentence between zero and six months.

His defense attorneys begged for the judge not to give him any prison time and asked for him to be sentenced to a minimum-security federal prison in Pennsylvania, though that is to be determined.

His attorney, William Schwartz, noted that Van Der Zwaan's wife, the daughter of Russian oligarch German Khan, is six months pregnant and has had some difficulty in London without her husband. Van der Zwaan awaited his sentencing for the last month while gripped with "boredom and anxiety" while living in a hotel, Schwartz said.

'Should know better'

Van der Zwaan covered up his discussions with Gates and a business associate based in Ukraine in September 2016, while the Trump campaign operation was in full swing. After speaking with the special counsel's office in a voluntary interview in November and confronted with the email he had hid, van der Zwaan was subpoenaed by Mueller to appear before a grand jury. A few weeks later, as he re-entered the country, federal authorities confiscated his passport. He then returned to Mueller's office in December to confess to the lies and to give Mueller's team access to his various laptops and cell phones.

Weissmann noted Tuesday that van der Zwaan had lied to his law firm and to former White House counsel Greg Craig, the senior partner with whom he worked before he was fired, about his interactions with Gates. He also had lied years ago about helping Gates to spin an independent report he worked on in favor of Gates' and Manafort's political clients in Ukraine.

"This is not an isolated incident of simply making one bad decision," Weissmann told the judge Tuesday. Van Der Zwaan "demonstrated a moral compass that was off-kilter."

Weissmann declined to ask the judge to give van Der Zwaan a specific length of sentence.

However, the prosecutor noted how closely watched this case has been and asked the judge for a sentence that would deter other witnesses from misleading the federal prosecutors, especially since he was a lawyer "who should know better."

"We count on people to tell us the truth. We count on people to turn over documents," Weissmann said.

Van der Zwaan was the fourth guilty plea in the Mueller investigation after Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators last year and agreed to cooperate, and an online supplier of fake usernames pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February. Gates later took a plea deal and has been cooperating with investigators.

Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, has pleaded not guilty to two sets of federal charges, and prosecutors revealed they could investigate allegations that he colluded with Russians to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller has also indicted 13 Russians for their work to influence the 2016 presidential election through online social media.

Unlike other defendants, van der Zwaan did not enter into an ongoing cooperation agreement with the special counsel's office.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 157713

Reported Deaths: 4092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25392789
Lake13805355
St. Joseph9277163
Elkhart8890135
Allen8278230
Hamilton6215113
Vanderburgh588261
Tippecanoe375915
Hendricks3302133
Monroe326638
Porter322049
Johnson3151129
Delaware297074
Clark296762
Vigo264840
Madison240595
LaPorte226658
Cass225522
Warrick195265
Kosciusko187826
Floyd180167
Howard164066
Bartholomew143358
Marshall140026
Dubois139626
Wayne132130
Henry128430
Grant127839
Boone124550
Hancock119944
Noble117434
Jackson114416
Dearborn98028
Morgan94840
Lawrence90837
Daviess89334
Gibson88612
Clinton86716
Shelby83531
LaGrange81015
Knox77410
Harrison77324
Putnam73716
Posey7236
DeKalb72011
Fayette69018
Steuben6338
Miami6305
Jasper6175
White59215
Montgomery59022
Greene55337
Scott52413
Decatur50739
Adams5027
Whitley4636
Clay4537
Ripley4538
Sullivan44414
Wells43511
Wabash4219
Starke4157
Orange40925
Huntington4015
Spencer3956
Washington3783
Franklin37625
Jennings36913
Fulton3653
Randolph3659
Jefferson3435
Pike33518
Carroll32913
Perry32614
Jay3116
Fountain3073
Tipton27823
Vermillion2531
Parke2374
Newton23011
Blackford2193
Rush2184
Owen2071
Martin2000
Crawford1591
Pulaski1562
Brown1433
Ohio1327
Benton1120
Union1110
Switzerland960
Warren841
Unassigned0234

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 192948

Reported Deaths: 5184
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin31703640
Cuyahoga19906684
Hamilton16878344
Montgomery10546189
Butler8401130
Lucas8364373
Summit6780265
Warren428466
Stark3853182
Mahoning3739287
Marion341250
Pickaway302446
Delaware290627
Lorain275489
Fairfield268657
Licking262366
Clark253057
Wood252981
Clermont251238
Greene234542
Trumbull2290134
Allen218373
Columbiana213387
Miami202858
Lake196659
Medina188942
Portage165468
Mercer154728
Wayne144669
Ross141537
Richland135124
Tuscarawas130825
Athens12352
Erie116953
Darke115551
Hancock106626
Madison106315
Auglaize102316
Putnam101627
Lawrence94525
Shelby91714
Muskingum9044
Scioto8719
Geauga86950
Belmont78927
Union7703
Ashtabula73548
Sandusky71722
Huron71614
Preble63518
Holmes63310
Seneca60714
Ottawa58930
Fulton54513
Henry48817
Jefferson4774
Clinton47213
Jackson4728
Crawford4688
Defiance46613
Fayette4528
Highland4446
Logan4353
Ashland4109
Champaign4053
Knox39416
Brown3883
Perry37311
Morrow3562
Washington35524
Hardin34813
Williams3464
Guernsey3298
Coshocton32412
Pike3120
Wyandot29813
Gallia29213
Van Wert2685
Carroll2157
Adams2126
Meigs21012
Paulding2072
Hocking1999
Monroe16318
Noble1480
Vinton1043
Harrison843
Morgan800
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 36°
Angola
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 29°
Huntington
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Decatur
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
Van Wert
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
Cooler Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events