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 Russia in the 2016 election.
Van der Zwaan, an attorney who formerly worked at the high-powered law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, pleaded guilty in February of lying to the FBI about his communications with Rick Gates, a top aide to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Both Gates and Manafort have been charged in Mueller’s probe with lying to investigators and conspiracy, tied to Manafort’s work as a lobbyist for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.
Documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington last week claimed that Gates and van der Zwaan had communicated with a former Russian intelligence officer in the months leading up to the 2016 election. That individual, identified only as “Person A” in the filings from Mueller’s team, is believed to be Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Manafort’s lobbying firm in Ukraine, according to Reuters.
“What I did was wrong. I apologize to the court for my conduct,” van der Zwaan said in a short statement at his sentencing hearing.
Van der Zwaan’s lawyers asked for no jail time, noting that his wife is pregnant.
“His career has been destroyed, he has been separated from his friends and family, and he faces the possibility of missing the birth of his first child. Although Alex committed a serious offense, just punishment does not require incarceration,” his attorneys wrote last week.
In February, Gates pleaded guilty to the charges against him and is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
Manafort pleaded not guilty and faces a trial later this year.