Edited by: JV Staff
The Bureau of Prisons has announced that the entire federal prison camp in Otisville, New York is being sent home due to an outbreak of COVID-19, as was reported by YWN. Among the 100 Jewish prisoners incarcerated at the facility is Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for President Trump. 14 inmates and seven staff members have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Cohen will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at the prison camp before he is released, according to a CNN report. He was notified on Thursday of his pending release, and his lawyer, Roger Adler, confirmed it to CNN.
Sources tell YWN that inmates have been sent home for 30 days, after which their release will be reviewed. It is likely this will last at least 60 days.
CNN reported that the Bureau of Prisons has been thinning out its prison populations by releasing some nonviolent and medically vulnerable inmates to home confinement or furloughing their sentences in response to the pandemic.
Cohen, 53, was alleged to have arranged hush money payments to women who said they had sexual relationships with President Trump. Cohen was scheduled to be released on November 22, 2021, according to a CNBC report.
Last month, Cohen accused the Justice Department of not treating him fairly and later added his concerns about the virus and asked for a reduction or modification of this prison sentence but a federal judge denied his request.
“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,” US District Court Judge William Pauley wrote, according to a CNN report.
Pauley also knocked Cohen for attempting to use the coronavirus pandemic as another reason for the possible modification of his sentence.
“Apparently searching for a new argument to justify a modification of his sentence to home confinement, Cohen now raises the specter of Covid-19,” Pauley 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.”
Cohen’s lawyer, Roger Adler had cited Cohen’s past two hospitalizations and “pulmonary issues” in his request for early release, as was reported by CNBC.
“I reiterate my belief that the coronavirus provides a basis for an appropriate modification of the venue in which his previously imposed sentence will be served, and that the sentence of 36 months should not end up being a capital crime depriving my client of his life,” Adler wrote in a March 23 letter to Judge William Pauley.
Adler told NBC News that Cohen will be released into home confinement on May 1 after completing a 14-day quarantine at Otisville.
Attorney General William Barr has directed the Bureau of Prisons to move to release federal inmates if they would be eligible for home confinement, and if they were at risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus, according to the CNBC report. Cohen will be among 1000 other federal inmates who are scheduled to be released.
In 2018, Cohen, a New York lawyer, pled guilty to lying to Congress and to campaign finance violations. He also lied to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Cohen also admitted to paying porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 before the 2016 presidential election so that she would not come out publicly and state that she had sexual encounters with President Trump. Trump had already been skewered by the media for his admissions of sexual impropriety on an Access Hollywood audio tape.
In addition to Daniels, Cohen admitted handling the hush money payout of $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also alleged that she had sexual encounters with President Trump. It was reported that the money paid to McDougal came from The National Inquirer, who paid for her story and then “killed” it so it would never see the light of print.
After pleading guilty, Cohen agreed to cooperate with federal and state prosecutors in investigations relating to Trump.