After a push for tough sentencing guidelines was reversed by senior Department of Justice officials on Tuesday, a team of four federal prosecutors resigned from the Roger Stone case — one of whom was Assistant U.S. Attorney and Cornell alumnus Michael J. Marando ’00 J.D. ’03.
An industrial and labor relations graduate, Marando has led a distinguished legal career, one which has seen the attorney prosecute several high-profile cases, ranging from fraud to money laundering. In one such case, Marando secured a 41-month prison sentence on bribery and fraud charges for former government consultant John Woods in December.
Stone served as a former Trump campaign advisor in 2015 before resigning. The infamous operative — a self-described “dirty trickster” — previously worked with Republican politicians such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Bob Dole, where he gained a reputation for pursuing unconventional, controversial political tactics.
The connection between Trump and Stone stems from more than just Trump’s presidential campaign. Their relationship began in the 1970s, and Stone is considered to have persuaded Trump to enter into the realm of politics, earning him the label of “the original architect of Trump’s political career” from political commentators.
On Jan. 25, 2019, the FBI arrested the former advisor with seven charges related to his involvement in Robert Mueller’s investigation into the ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
The charges included witness tampering, obstructing a proceeding and five counts of lying to Congress.
Despite pleading not guilty on all counts, Stone was convicted for all seven charges at a Nov. 15 trial in Washington, D.C. As recommended by the four prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis, Adam Jed and Marando, Stone’s original suggested sentence was seven to nine years.
But in what many legal observers have described as an “extraordinary” step, the proposal was overturned by top Justice Department brass, which deemed the sentence “inappropriate.” Trump, who had already taken to Twitter to comment on the attorneys “who cut and ran,” called the sentence “ridiculous,” explaining Stone’s actions as a result of simply getting “caught up in an investigation.”
In most cases, prosecutors typically have discretion over sentencing guidelines, and the Justice Department’s intervention in the proceedings was enough to incite the four attorneys to withdraw from the case on Tuesday, while one resigned from the Department completely.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to The Sun’s request for comment.