- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Paul Manafort, who served as President Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, has asked for an early release from prison because of his health issues and the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to the Bureau of Prisons, Manafort’s lawyers said he was at “high risk” of a coronavirus infection because of his “age and preexisting health conditions.”

Manafort, who was convicted of financial fraud in 2018 and pleaded guilty to other crimes in a separate case, has high blood pressure, liver disease and respiratory issues, his attorneys wrote. He is currently taking 11 prescription medications.

“These medications as well as Mr. Manafort’s health history make plain that Mr. Manafort is at a significantly higher risk for serious illness or death,” his lawyers wrote.

“Indeed, CDC guidelines provide that individuals who are 65 years and older as well those with serious heart conditions and respiratory illnesses are at a higher risk from COVID-19, including death,” the letter continued.

Manafort attorneys Todd Blanche and Kevin Downing asked that their client finish his sentence from home. They also proposed Manafort could serve his sentence at home “for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The attorneys asked that Manafort serve his confinement with his wife in a three-bedroom apartment in Northern Virginia, saying this “will not increase — and likely decrease — his risk of contracting the potentially fatal disease.”

There is precedent for releasing high-profile, white-collar offenders because of concerns over the coronavirus.

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who was convicted of trying to extort over $20 million from Nike, was temporarily released from a federal prison in New York City because of concerns over the coronavirus. He has to report back to jail in 90 days, a federal judge ruled.

Manafort, 71, has been serving a 7½-year sentence at a federal prison complex in Loretto, Pennsylvania, since June 2018. He would be eligible for release in November 2024 upon serving 75% of his sentence.

Attorney General William Barr last month urged prison officials to move nonviolent offenders over the age of 60 to home confinement to slow the spread of the coronavirus in federal prisons. Although most prisoners would have to undergo a 14-day quarantine before being released.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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