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Paul Manafort seeks release from prison to home confinement citing coronavirus threat

Then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, seen in 2016. (Matt Rourke/AP)

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort asked Monday to be released from prison to home confinement to serve the remainder of his 7½-year sentence, saying his age and health put him at higher risk of death from the novel coronavirus.

In a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Manafort lawyers Kevin Downing and Todd Blanche sought Manafort’s release from the Loretto federal prison in central Pennsylvania, a low-security facility with an adjacent ­minimum-security camp, where Manafort is serving a term due to end Nov. 3, 2024.

Manafort was convicted in 2018 of bank and tax fraud, witness tampering and conspiring to defraud the United States in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. A longtime lobbyist and GOP strategist, Manafort joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in spring 2016 before stepping down in August amid reports of his illegal lobbying work in Ukraine.

Although there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus at the prison, Manafort since March 30 has been placed under a 14-day quarantine, making him eligible to be transferred to home confinement immediately under an April 3 directive by Attorney General William P. Barr, Manafort’s lawyers said in the letter. The directive authorizes the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to place at-risk prisoners in home confinement for longer than normally permitted, Manfort’s lawyers said.

Paul Manafort sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in prison for conspiracy and fraud, and charged with mortgage fraud in N.Y.

Manafort is 71 years old and suffers from high blood pressure and liver disease, his lawyers said. Manafort also contracted influenza and bronchitis in February, and in December, he was hospitalized for several days due to a heart condition, his lawyers said.

They asked that he be released to live with his wife at their condominium in Northern Virginia “to serve the remainder of his sentence or, alternatively, for the duration of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Mr. Manafort is at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 at FCI ­Loretto due to his age and preexisting health conditions, and it is imperative that Mr. Manafort be transferred to home confinement immediately in order to minimize the likelihood of Mr. Manafort contracting or spreading the potentially fatal disease,” his attorneys wrote.

“Mr. Manafort has been a model inmate and has not incurred any infractions or violations while incarcerated. Thus, he does not pose any danger to the community and is unlikely to recidivize while serving his sentence in home confinement,” his lawyers added.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on Manafort’s request.

As of Tuesday, 446 federal inmates and 248 employees have tested positive for the virus nationwide, and 14 inmates and one staff member have died, the bureau has reported.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Scott Walker said that the agency is not able to comment on the suitability of any particular inmate’s request but that it has placed an additional 1,019 inmates on home confinement since March 26.

Given the surge in cases and Barr’s directives, the bureau said it has begun immediately reviewing all inmates with medical risk factors, beginning with prisons in Oakdale, La., Danbury, Conn., and Elkton, Ohio, “and similarly situated facilities to determine which inmates are suitable for home confinement.”

The three named sites have reported more than one-fourth of the federal prison staff and inmate cases and eight of its prisoner deaths from the virus.

Read Paul Manafort’s plea agreement here

Federal judge to order inspection of D.C. jail in coronavirus lawsuit seeking emergency inmate releases

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