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Michael Cohen to Be Released from Prison Due to Coronavirus

Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for President Donald Trump walks back to his apartment in New York City, May 4, 2019. (Yana Paskova/Reuters)

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, will be released from prison due to fears about a coronavirus outbreak among inmates and prison staff members.

Cohen is currently serving a three-year sentence at the federal prison camp in Otisville, N.Y., where 14 inmates and seven staff members have tested positive for the virus. The federal Bureau of Prisons approved a request by Cohen’s lawyers that he be released early due to unsafe prison conditions after the coronavirus outbreak.

His lawyer, Roger Bennett Adler, said Cohen will be released May 1 after a two-week quarantine at the facility and will serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement. His sentence was set to end in November, 2021.

Cohen pled guilty in 2018 to a slew of charges, including tax evasion, campaign-finance violations, and lying to Congress. He implicated his former boss as well, saying that he was acting on the president’s command when he paid for the silence of women who claimed they’d had affairs with Trump, which amounted to campaign finance violations.

Last month, a federal judge denied Cohen’s request to reduce or otherwise change his sentence.

“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,” U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley stated. “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, adding that Cohen’s efforts appear to be “just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle.”

The Bureau of Prisons has begun releasing nonviolent and medically compromised inmates to home confinement over fears that the coronavirus could run rampant in prisons. The Bureau’s online tracking system reports that 1,198 inmates have been moved to home confinement while hundreds of inmates and staff members have contracted the virus, and 18 inmates have died.

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