Manafort Deputy Rick Gates Wins Prison Reprieve Due to Covid Concerns

Rick Gates arrives to the federal court in Washington on Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Rick Gates, former deputy to Paul Manafort, became the latest high-profile convict to be granted a request for release on home confinement during the coronavirus outbreak, due to the risk to Gates’ wife who is being treated for cancer. 

President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, and celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti have both secured similar requests to serve time from the comfort of their home due to the spread of Covid-19, the potentially deadly respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

“If Mr. Gates were to return to his home carrying the virus, it could create serious ramifications for his wife,” defense attorney Thomas Green argued in a motion filed April 19. “Due to her cancer treatment, her immune system is compromised, placing her at heightened risk for serious side effects or worse if she were to be infected with the coronavirus.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted the request in part Tuesday, ordering the intermittent confinement of Gates be suspended indefinitely. Gates was sentenced last year to three years probation plus 45 days in jail for lying to the FBI and financial crimes. 

The request for home confinement notes that Gates will follow probation office directives except if he needs to transport his wife or children to seek emergency medical care. The Justice Department did not oppose Gates’ request, which — despite Trump’s bold assurance that America will soon return to normal life — warns normal life is a long way away. 

“The threat from the coronavirus pandemic is sure to linger for many months. Even if the president’s desire to see limitations on public gatherings lifted by early May 2020 becomes reality, no return to normal public life will guarantee that the risk of exposure to the virus has been eliminated,” Gates’ request said.

Judge Jackson, who handled several cases arising from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, had allowed the former Trump campaign deputy turned star witness to serve prison time on weekends to continue as the primary caretaker for his children while his wife underwent treatment. 

“Mr. Gates, I am 100% certain that the criminal-justice system will not see you again,” the judge told Gates during his sentencing hearing last December. 

Gates provided key witness testimony against his former boss, Manafort, as well as longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. He clocked over 500 hours working with federal investigators before taking the witness stand. 

In an April 3 memo, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the Bureau of Prisons is facing an emergency. In the weeks that followed, inmates across the country have sought release into home confinement as hundreds fell ill in prisons. 

Just last week, Manafort, 71, argued he is at high risk of developing complications if he contracts Covid-19.

The former Trump campaign director wrote to the Bureau of Prisons director seeking permission to serve the remainder of his 7 1/2-year prison term in his Virginia home because he “suffers from several pre-existing health conditions, including high blood pressure, liver disease and respiratory ailments.”

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