Paul Manafort seeks early prison release due to coronavirus risk

President Trump’s one-time campaign chair Paul Manafort, who was recently treated for a “cardiac event” while serving his 7 1/2-year sentence behind bars, is seeking an early release because of the threat posed by the coronavirus, according to a report.

Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Dowling on Monday asked the federal Bureau of Prisons to transfer him to home confinement to serve the rest of his term, according to Politico.

The 71-year-old longtime GOP strategist was convicted in August 2018 of tax evasion, failure to report foreign bank accounts, engaging in unregistered lobbying for foreign entities and witness tampering.

His crimes were first uncovered during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible cooperation by the Trump campaign.

Manafort has been serving time in a low-security federal penitentiary about 80 miles from Pittsburgh.

“Mr. Manafort is at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 at FCI Loretto due to his age and pre-existing health conditions, and it is imperative that Mr. Manafort be transferred to home confinement immediately in order to minimize the likelihood of Mr. Manafort contracting or spreading the potentially fatal disease,” Downing wrote in a letter obtained by the news outlet.

Downing wrote that Manafort also had the flu and bronchitis in prison in February, putting him at additional risk to contract the deadly bug.

On March 30, according to the letter, he was placed in a two-week quarantine at the prison – a period the bureau has implemented for inmates being considered for release in order to prevent the virus from spreading into the system.

But many prisoners have been placed into such pre-release quarantine before being returned to the general population without additional explanation, according to inmates’ spouses, Politico reported.

“Given the growing number of cases in Pennsylvania and increasing challenges in testing inmates and staff potentially exposed to COVID-19, 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,” Downing added in his letter.

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