Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it’s about former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Manafort had been imprisoned since June 2018 when he was indicted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on a charge of witness tampering while awaiting trial on bank and tax fraud charges, for which he was convicted that summer. He later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruct justice related to his undisclosed lobbying for a pro Russian politician and political party in Ukraine.
Manafort was serving a seven-year term, was released to his home in Alexandria, Va. from the minimum security Loretto Federal Correctional Institution in central Pennsylvania. His term was set to end in November 2024. His release was first reported by ABC News.
Manafort’s attorneys argued in April that, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Manafort should be released to serve out at least a portion of that sentence with his wife in their Northern Virginia condominium. His release was confirmed Wednesday by attorney Todd Blanche.
“Mr. Manafort is 71 years old and suffers from several preexisting health conditions, including high blood pressure, liver disease, and respiratory ailments,” his lawyers wrote.
Manafort was hospitalized for several days in December because of heart problems, they noted, and in February he contracted influenza and bronchitis. Given that history, the lawyers said that if he became infected with covid-19, “Mr. Manafort is at a significantly higher risk for serious illness or death.”
Attorney General William P. Barr in late March directed the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to release to home confinement more vulnerable prisoners not considered a danger to the community.
A Justice Department official said though Manafort had not served enough time to be granted priority release, the Bureau of Prisons felt it was necessary because of his age and vulnerability because of his underlying health issues. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because officials are not authorized to publicly discuss the details of particular inmates’ cases.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons reported as of Tuesday that 2,818 inmates and 262 staff in its 140,000 prisoner system have tested positive for the virus, and 50 inmates have died. There have been no confirmed infections at the Loretto complex, according to the bureau.
The Bureau of Prisons has struggled to implement Barr’s directive to release inmates to home confinement, issuing shifting guidance that apparently has not been applied uniformly. At times, the bureau has insisted that inmates must serve half their sentence before being eligible for release even pulling back some people who had been told they would be let go and put in mandatory, prerelease quarantine.