Posts tagged with "Bureau of Prisons"

Judge orders Michael Cohen to be released from prison, returned to home confinement

July 24, 2020

A federal judge on Thursday ordered that President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer,  Michael Cohen be returned to home confinement, after the he was sent back to prison earlier this month over a dispute with federal corrections officials, The Hill reports.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, accused the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) of trying to violate Cohen’s First Amendment rights by imposing a gag order as a condition of his home confinement.

“I make the finding that the purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail as retaliatory, and it’s retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish the book and to discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media” and elsewhere, Hellerstein said during a court hearing on July 23.

Cohen had been writing a book about his time working for Trump and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit this week alleging that he was sent back to prison in retaliation for the tell-all. Cohen is serving a three-year sentence for various charges, including fraud and lying to Congress.

“This order is a victory for the First Amendment,” Cohen’s attorney Danya Perry said in a statement after the hearing. “The First Amendment does not allow the government to block Cohen from publishing a book critical of the president as a condition of his release to home confinement. This principle transcends politics. We are gratified that the rule of law prevails.”

Cohen had been released to home confinement in May amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the prison population, The Hill said..

Earlier this month, Cohen and his attorney met with corrections officials to finalize the terms of the home confinement agreement and objected to a number of the conditions, including a prohibition against speaking with the media or publishing any sort of writing.

According to the report by The Hill, Justice Department officials detained Cohen during the meeting over his objections and sent him back to prison.

The DOJ denied that the gag order was aimed at stopping Cohen from proceeding with his book or that his being returned to prison was retaliation over the planned publication.

During Thursday’s hearing, Hellerstein, who was appointed to the court by former President Clinton, appeared disturbed by the manner in which BOP officials decided to reincarcerate Cohen and the gag order that they tried to impose upon him.

“I’ve never seen such a clause,” Hellerstein said. “In 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people and looking at the conditions of supervised release, I’ve never seen such a clause.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which defended the BOP’s move in court, did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

Research contact: @thehill

Michael Cohen gets early release from clinker due to pandemic; will be on home confinement

April 20, 2020

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s disgraced former personal attorney and “fixer,” has received a “Get Out of Jail” card after serving nearly a year at the federal Otisville prison camp in upstate New York. He will be released early due to the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter and his lawyer.

Since May 6, 2019, Cohen has been serving a three-year sentence at the minimum security prison—at which 14 inmates and seven staff members already have tested positive for the COVID-19, The New York Times reports.

Cohen was scheduled for release in November 2021, but he will be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence as home confinement, the sources said. He will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at the prison camp before he is released.

Cohen was notified on Thursday, April 16, of his pending release by the federal Bureau of Prisons, and his lawyer, Roger B. Adler, the Times said.

His pending release comes as the bureau, which has been under pressure for its poor handling of the virus at its facilities, has started 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 pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax fraud, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. He admitted to helping facilitate hush money payments to two women who alleged past affairs with Trump. Trump has denied having affairs with the women.

When pleading guilty, Cohen implicated Trump—telling a federal judge that he had made the payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, who prosecutors identified in court filings as “Individual 1.” His pending early release comes in the middle of Trump’s reelection campaign and as the President is facing his greatest test: handling the pandemic.

Lawyers for at least six other inmates in the Otisville camp said their clients also had been informed they would be furloughed to lessen the possibility of them contracting the virus, the Times noted.. Some were told they would finish their sentences under house arrest. Others were told that they might be required to return to the prison camp.

According to the Bureau of Prisons online tracking system, there are 473 inmates and 279 staff members who have tested positive for the virus and 18 inmates have died. To date, the system reports 1,198 inmates have been placed on home confinement. There are more than 143,000 prisoners at federal facilities across the country.

Research contact: @nytimes