Paul Manafort’s lawyers have asked for the former Trump campaign chairman to be moved out of prison due to potential health risks from the coronavirus.
Manafort is hoping prison officials will consider letting him stay under home confinement with his wife in Northern Virginia either while the pandemic continues or even for the four more years he’s set to stay behind bars, his lawyers said in a letter to the federal Bureau of Prisons Monday afternoon.
Fear of coronavirus proliferating behind bars has consumed inmates across the country, and federal prisons have reported in total 13 inmate deaths from Covid-19 as of Tuesday morning. Many prisoners have asked judges to release them, though relatively few have been successful.
The prison in Western Pennsylvania, FCI Loretto, where Manafort lives now, currently has no reported cases of coronavirus.
“It is only a matter of time before the infection spreads to staff and inmates at FCI Loretto, at which time it may be too late to prevent high-risk inmates, such as Mr. Manafort, from contracting the potentially deadly virus,” Manafort’s defense lawyer Kevin Downing wrote.
Manafort’s request was first reported by Politico.
Manafort is not asking to be released from custody, which he would need to take up with both judges who previously sentenced him following his conviction by a jury and his admissions of guilt in court.
Still, the Justice Department has outlined broadly how some non-violent offenders essentially could be released early by being transferred to home confinement if they have a high risk of illness and good behavior, and especially if they’re at prisons hardest hit by the virus.
The Bureau of Prisons has not yet responded, another Manafort attorney Todd Blanche said Tuesday morning.
Manafort has been in jail since June 2018. He is serving a 7.5-year sentence for bank and tax fraud and foreign lobbying-related crimes. His scheduled release date is November 3, 2024.
The letter on Monday outlines several health issues the 71-year-old faces, such as liver and respiratory issues, and that he takes several medications for cholesterol and high blood pressure. In late 2018 and 2019, Manafort repeatedly noted that he had ongoing health problems in court, and even appeared in a wheelchair for a gout-like issue in his foot.
Late last year, he spent time in the hospital for a heart condition. Manafort then had the flu and bronchitis this February, Downing wrote.
Manafort’s wife Kathleen has been self-quarantining in a three-bedroom apartment in Northern Virginia, where he says he could self-quarantine as well, the letter states.
“Mr. Manafort is able to support himself financially during home confinement and will enroll in Medicare and seek additional health insurance as soon as he is released,” his attorney wrote.