The situation started in 2016 when Paul Manafort started applying for mortgage loans for his house on Howard Street. Laporta testified that Rick Gates told her that it was used as a second home, rather than a rental. “The rate for a second home is better than a rate on a rental property,” she said. Tax documents showed that the house on Howard Street had brought in more than $115,000 in 2015, when it was available for rent 365 days a year.
Laporta said that she relied on Gates’ representation of how the home was used rather than checking Manafort’s general ledger, which would have shown it to be a rental property.
Later in the year, the loan application was denied when the bank questioned a $1.5 million loan from Peranova Holdings, LLC, a company that we now know to be controlled by Manafort. Citizens Bank wanted to see the loan documents. Laporta testified that she was directed by Gates to tell the bank that the loan had been forgiven even though she did not believe that to be true. Laporta did and cc’ed Paul Manafort on the email.
The jury was then shown an email chain where Gates told Laporta that he would “chase down the signatures” he needed for a loan forgiveness letter that was then backdated to June 2015. Laporta then sent the document to the bank. “I believed the bank would have to vet the document themselves,” she said, and she believed that she would be protected by the fact that she didn’t edit the document herself.