Michael Cohen Gets Home Confinement Amid Pandemic Fears

By Mike LaSusa
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Law360 (May 20, 2020, 10:53 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has decided that President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen won't have to serve the rest of his three-year prison sentence behind bars due to concerns related to COVID-19, according to multiple media reports Wednesday.

Cohen, who admitted in 2018 to a "smorgasbord" of crimes during his time as an attorney for Trump, will be furloughed Thursday from the New York federal prison where he's been an inmate for a year, The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and other outlets reported, citing "a person familiar" with Cohen's case.

Cohen is being furloughed amid BOP efforts to help contain the ongoing pandemic. Cohen is expected to transition into home confinement and serve out the rest of his sentence there, the outlets reported.

The decision by the BOP comes less than two months after a Manhattan federal judge denied a bid by the 53-year-old for early release based on health concerns, describing it as an apparent media stunt.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III seemed poised to leave Cohen to serve his 36-month sentence at an upstate New York federal detention center for crimes including paying off two women who said they had affairs with the president, lying to Congress about Russia and dodging taxes on $4.1 million of income.

Cohen's attorneys, the BOP and the U.S. Department of Justice did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

Cohen is not the only prisoner with ties to the president who has been sprung from behind bars amid the pandemic. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was released from prison last week to serve the remainder of his 7½-year sentence in home confinement.

The 71-year-old is one of six Trump associates to be convicted on charges brought by former special counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. His sentence resulted from two separate convictions — in Washington, D.C., for obstruction and unsanctioned lobbying work, and in Virginia for bank and tax fraud. He had been slated to be released from prison in November 2024.

Last month, a D.C. federal judge allowed former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates to return to his home in Virginia, suspending his 45-day intermittent jail sentence to shield his wife from possible COVID-19 exposure while she undergoes cancer treatment.

Cohen is represented by Michael Monico of Monico & Spevack, Lanny Davis of Davis Goldberg & Galper PLLC, and Roger Adler.

The government is represented by Thomas McKay, Nicolas Roos and Andrea Griswold of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is U.S. v. Cohen, case number 1:18-cr-00602, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

--Additional reporting by Stewart Bishop, Khorri Atkinson and Pete Brush. Editing by Breda Lund.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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