A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request by President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to reduce or modify his prison sentence, accusing Cohen of making unfounded or inappropriate claims in an effort to win release.
“Ten months into his prison term, it’s time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far reaching institutional harms,” US District Court Judge William Pauley wrote.
Pauley also knocked Cohen for attempting to use the coronavirus pandemic as another reason for the possible modification of his sentence.
“Apparently searching for a new argument to justify a modification of his sentence to home confinement, Cohen now raises the specter of Covid-19,” Pauley wrote. “That Cohen would seek to single himself out for release to home confinement appears to be just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle.”
Cohen, who is serving a three-year sentence at a federal prison in Otisville, New York, after pleading guilty to eight counts including campaign finance violations connected to Trump, first asked the court in December to reduce his sentence.
Last week, amid the coronavirus pandemic, he asked the court alternatively to allow him to serve his sentence in home confinement, citing the potential threat that the virus poses to inmates. Federal prosecutors opposed any adjustment to Cohen’s terms of imprisonment.
In his decision, the judge said the “fatal flaw” of Cohen’s effort is that only prosecutors — not defendants — are permitted to file a motion to reduce a sentence, and criticized Cohen for suggesting in his initial request that the Justice Department was biased against him.
“Unable to articulate how he advanced any investigation or prosecution, Cohen and his surrogates make extravagant allegations that the Department of Justice — from the Attorney General down to line prosecutors — acted in bad faith,” the judge wrote. “Those ad hominem attacks lack any substance and do not trigger the right to a remedy or a hearing before this Court.”
Cohen’s attorney had noted in a filing Monday that Cohen has been hospitalized twice and has pre-existing pulmonary issues, saying “the sentence of 36 months should not end up being a capital crime depriving my client of his life.”