MANHATTAN (CN) — Roasting the lawyer’s latest request for compassionate release as a media stunt, a federal judge refused Tuesday to let Michael Cohen stay at home during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Apparently searching for a new argument to justify a modification of his sentence to home confinement, Cohen now raises the specter of Covid-19,” U.S. District Judge William Pauley III wrote. “That Cohen would seek to single himself out for release to home confinement appears to be just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle. As the government points out, he is ‘manifestly ineligible’ for compassionate release and has not exhausted his administrative remedies.
“Ten months into his prison term, it’s time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far reaching institutional harms,” Pauley continued.
Cohen’s attorney Roger Adler expressed his disappointment that the court would not even schedule a hearing amid escalating coronavirus infections across New York despite a state-ordered lockdown.
“With BOP not having alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and not testing inmates, corrections officers, staff, or delivery people, with inmates housed in close quarters, the risk of a medical tsunami is a palpable threat,” Adler said in a statement, using an abbreviation for the federal Bureau of Prisons.
“Whatever anyone may think about my court submissions, they were made in good faith and should not be fobbed off as a bid for ‘media attention,’” he added.
Convicted on what Pauley had previously called a “veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct,” President Trump’s former fixer has floated several rationales since December for a break on his three-year sentence.
Touting his cooperation in federal, state and congressional investigations, Cohen has blamed his loyalty to the president for behavior to which he pleaded guilty: tax fraud, campaign-finance fraud and false statements to Congress.
Cohen noted that he committed his crimes in service of hiding Trump’s alleged affair with pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and disguising the details of a thwarted Trump Towers Moscow deal.
Cooperating in investigations could inspire prosecutors to file what is known as a Rule 35(b) motion for a sentencing break, but Pauley wrote that such a motion would be beyond Cohen’s control.
“The fatal flaw in Cohen’s motion is that only the prosecutor can file a Rule 35(b) motion,” Pauley wrote. “And the government’s decision not to file such a motion is entitled to considerable deference.”
During his sentencing in late 2018, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos skewered Cohen for “selective cooperation.”
Prosecutors have opposed Cohen’s subsequent requests for relief at every turn, even as the national health emergency prompted widespread calls to release nonviolent prisoners.
“Cohen has not even attempted to argue that he is uniquely at risk as compared to other inmates,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay wrote in a recent motion. “Nor could he: He is 53 years old and in good health.”
Cohen says he has pulmonary issues, and his attorney urged the judge not to let the coronavirus turn a three-year sentence into a capital crime.
The Bureau of Prisons recently reported its first confirmed case of Covid-19 infection inside Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center over the weekend. Cohen is confined in Otisville, New York.
On Monday, union officials for correctional officers at the New York state prison confirmed that their latest high-profile inmate, Harvey Weinstein, has coronavirus.
After his March 11 sentencing on rape and sexual assault charges, the ex-Hollywood mogul was transferred to Buffalo-area Wende Correctional Facility from Rikers Island, the notorious New York City jail complex where multiple coronavirus cases are confirmed.