Coronavirus: Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen ‘to be released from prison’
President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is reportedly set for an early release from prison due to Covid-19.
Cohen is serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to multiple offences, including violating campaign finance laws and lying to Congress.
He is currently in a minimum-security New York prison where virus cases have been reported among inmates and staff.
New York has been the epicentre of the outbreak in the US.
There are currently over 671,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US, and the death toll has risen to more than 33,000. Of those deaths, nearly a third are in New York state.
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Cohen, 53, has been serving his sentence at the Otisville correctional facility in upstate New York since last May, and was due to be released in November 2021.
Cohen’s counsel had requested he finish his time at home due to the pandemic in March, but was rejected by a federal judge, who said Cohen should “accept the consequences of his criminal convictions”.
A lawyer for Cohen now says he will finish his sentence at home, US media report.
The president’s former fixer is to remain in quarantine for two weeks before he is released.
Cohen, who once said he would take a bullet for Mr Trump, was the first member of Mr Trump’s inner circle to be jailed during the special counsel’s inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
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He admitted to lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow, campaign finance violations for his role in making hush money payments to women alleging affairs with Mr Trump and other tax and bank fraud charges unrelated to the president.
According to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), as of Thursday, 473 inmates and 279 staff have tested positive for Covid-19 nationwide. There have been 18 inmate deaths due to the virus.
There are 14 confirmed Covid-19 cases among inmates at the Otisville prison.
The BOP manages over 150,000 inmates and 36,000 employees.
The agency has faced criticism for its handling of outbreaks and is under pressure to release some non-violent inmates.
Reform campaigners say prisoners face unique risks, due to a lack of hygiene in overcrowded cells and hallways.
Handcuffed people cannot cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, sinks often lack soap, and hand sanitiser is considered contraband due to its alcohol content.
A number of other high-profile convicts, including financial fraudster Bernie Madoff and comedian Bill Cosby, have also appealed for release due to the virus.
At the start of April, Attorney General William Barr directed the BOP to move vulnerable inmates out of three federal facilities in Louisiana, Ohio and Connecticut that had Covid-19 outbreaks.
“Given the speed with which this disease has spread through the general public, it is clear that time is of the essence,” he said.
The attorney general also told officials to review inmates with risk factors at other ” similarly situated facilities where you determine that Covid-19 is materially affecting operations”.