By Jonathan Stempel and Karen Freifeld
A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a petition by Lawrence native Michael Cohen, the onetime personal lawyer and fixer for former President Donald Trump, to release him from home confinement in May, six months ahead of schedule.
U.S. District Judge John Koeltl said the petition was premature because prosecutors were not yet required, under a 2018 law allowing early release for some prisoners, to credit Cohen for hundreds of hours of work and courses he completed while imprisoned at a federal facility in New York state.
The Manhattan judge also said Cohen had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and faced no irreparable harm because there was “no basis to conclude that Mr. Cohen’s service of his sentence violates his constitutional rights.”Cohen, 54, who represented himself, is serving a three-year sentence for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes to which he pleaded guilty in December 2018.
He spent a little over one year in the Otisville, New York, prison before being allowed to serve his term in his Manhattan apartment, as the COVID-19 pandemic began tearing through the nation’s prisons.
Cohen had sought to end home confinement on May 29.
His projected release date is now Nov. 22, reflecting more than five months of credits for good behavior.
In a text message, Cohen said that despite the “adverse decision” on his petition, “all attention” should be directed to the murder conviction on Tuesday of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the “justice for George Floyd.”
Last July, Cohen was returned to prison for two weeks amid a dispute with federal officials over his plan for a tell-all book critical of his former boss.
The book, “Disloyal: A Memoir,” was published in September.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)