- Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort credits an inmate named "Ralph" with helping him adjust in prison.
- Ralph became his "mentor" and invited him to the "Italian table" for meals, he wrote in his forthcoming memoir.
- That invitation positioned Manafort, "in so many ways, including with regard to who would be my friends."
Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in his forthcoming memoir describes meeting an inmate named "Ralph" who would become his "mentor" at the Federal Correctional Institution Loretto, a low-security federal prison for men in Pennsylvania.
"'You're Italian, right?'" Ralph asked.
"'Yeah,' I said."
"'Well, you don't have anything to worry about. We got your back."
Ralph told Manafort that he got "screwed" and that he didn't have to worry because he wasn't a "rat," Manafort wrote in "Political Prisoner: Persecuted, Prosecuted, but Not Silenced," which will be released on August 16.
Manafort was ultimately pardoned by then-President Donald Trump in 2020 for financial fraud and conspiracy convictions. But at Loretto, it was Ralph helping him out, Manafort wrote in his memoir.
Ralph invited him to sit with him at the "Italian table" for meals, which Manafort said positioned him "in so many ways, including with regard to who would be my friends."
He sat with "real characters" at that table, including "real criminals" and others who just had some bad luck.
Were they Goodfellas? Manafort didn't say that, exactly.
But he said they were "all nice people. And they were compassionate," adding that he was "glad to be with the Italians."
"I didn't get the sense that I had to do anything to keep the protection," Manafort wrote. "I ended up counseling some people, but nothing was ever asked of me besides being a friend."
Manafort learned some rules, like never to associate with "the rats" or the pedophiles, he wrote. Loretto apparently had a lot of the latter.
He asked Ralph to explain the rules, saying he wanted to "deal with each person as a human," an idea that made Ralph laugh.
"Over time, he educated me," Manafort wrote.
When one "tough-guy" inmate accused Manafort of being a "rat," Manafort wrote that he had his attorney send him his sentencing transcripts so other prisoners — Ralph and a muscle-bound inmate named "Vegas" — could assess them and "'cleanse'" him of the allegation. They proclaimed him innocent, he wrote.
Manafort describes acquiring another layer of friends and fans after the "American Greed" program about him aired, talking about "the $90 million in the bank accounts, the oriental carpets, and the expensive clothes." He became "something of a business tutor" to men who wanted to learn how to run a legitimate business, he wrote.
"I became a kind of hero in prison, a role model for a lot of the younger guys," he wrote. "They all wanted to know how to be successful."
But, Manafort wrote, when he learned his fellow inmates had "enormous amounts of money hidden away," he thought they should be teaching him.
"They were able to go to prison and keep their money," he said.