Michael Cohen, Ex-Trump Lawyer, to Leave Prison Early Because of Virus


May 21, 2020


Mr. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other crimes, had been imprisoned at a minimum-security camp in New York.

Michael Cohen after meeting with the House Intelligence Committee in Washington on March 6, 2019.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times


By Benjamin Weiser, Katie Benner and William K. Rashbaum | The New York Times


Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, will be released from a federal prison on Thursday on furlough, a Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman said on Wednesday. He had asked to be released over health concerns tied to the coronavirus.

Mr. Cohen, 53, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations and other crimes, had been serving his sentence at a minimum-security camp next to a medium-security federal prison and detention center in Otisville, about 75 miles northwest of New York City.

Mr. Cohen’s projected release date was November 2021, according to the bureau’s website, but he had sought to be released sooner because of medical issues and the risk that they would be exacerbated by the virus’s spread at the prison.

One law enforcement official briefed on the matter said it was expected that Mr. Cohen would serve the balance of his sentence under home confinement, but it was unclear on Wednesday whether a final decision had been made with regard to that.

Prisons and jails across the country have been hot spots for the spread of the virus. In April, Attorney General William P. Barr ordered the prisons bureau, which is part of the Justice Department, to determine which federal inmates could be safely released to home confinement. As of May 13, more than 2,500 inmates had been, according to bureau data.

The federal crimes that Mr. Cohen admitted to were part of a scheme to pay hush money to two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump before he was president, which Mr. Trump has denied.

In March, the judge who sentenced Mr. Cohen rejected his request for release. Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Roger B. Adler, had said in court papers that his client “has had two hospitalizations, and a pre-existing condition of pulmonary issues.”

Mr. Adler said on Wednesday that he was pleased to learn “Mr. Cohen’s application for compassionate release has been viewed favorably” and that he looked forward to his client being reunited with his family.

The Bureau of Prisons decision to release Mr. Cohen on Thursday was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, which prosecuted Mr. Cohen, had no comment.

Mr. Cohen’s release came a week after Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, was released into home confinement in Northern Virginia because of underlying health conditions and concerns about the virus. He had been serving a federal prison sentence of seven and a half years.

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