Michael Cohen, Broken and Humiliated, Asks for Leniency From Prison

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Michael Cohen says he has been left disbarred, financially crushed, and personally embarrassed and humiliated after being sentenced to three years in prison for bank fraud and other crimes. He says he regrets that he thought “being Donald Trump’s lawyer made him a ‘big man.’”

Cohen, the disgraced former lawyer and fixer for Trump, made the comments in a letter to a federal judge Wednesday in which he portrayed himself as a broken man and asked the court to allow him to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement. 

Cohen, 53, began serving his sentence in May and is in a minimum-security camp at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, about 75 miles northwest of New York City.

Cohen wrote that he now realizes, as he walks the Otisville Camp paths, that he “in fact ‘sold his soul,’ and foolishly frittered away his integrity.”

Cohen’s lawyers supplemented his request to the judge, William H. Pauley III of U.S. District Court, with strongly written attacks on Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted Cohen.

One lawyer, Roger B. Adler, accused the government of refusing to consider sponsoring Cohen for a sentence reduction based on his cooperation “because his testimony leads directly down a pathway to possible indictment” of Trump, his family organization, family members and his “enablers.”

Adler offered no evidence to support his claim about the prosecution’s motives.

Another of Cohen’s lawyers, Lanny J. Davis, said in an emailed statement that he questioned whether Barr had “interfered and influenced the decision not to credit Cohen for all his cooperation in bringing the facts out publicly about Trump’s wrongdoing.”

Cohen’s lawyers also asked Pauley to order a hearing “to explore, evaluate and quantify the cooperation” that they say Cohen has provided to the government.

A Southern District spokesman declined to comment Wednesday; the office is expected to respond to Cohen’s motion in a court filing. A representative for Barr also declined to comment. The White House did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Cohen had pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes in connection with a scheme to pay hush money to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with Trump. The president has denied the affairs.

The Southern District, in a court filing in July, said it was unlikely it would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation and that it had “effectively concluded” the inquiry.

In their motion Wednesday, Cohen’s lawyers said Cohen had been a model prisoner and could ordinarily be expected to serve about one more year in prison before he would be transferred to a halfway house or other form of community confinement.

Before Cohen was sentenced a year ago, the Southern District prosecutors told Pauley that they had met with Cohen and that he had been “forthright and credible” and provided potentially “useful information.”

But they said they had not provided him with a formal cooperation deal because he “specifically declined to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past.” He had also “declined to meet with the office about other areas of investigative interest,” they said.

In his request to the judge Wednesday, Cohen listed cooperation he had provided to offices like the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and, more recently, congressional committees.

Defendants can seek reduced sentences based on new information they provide to the government after they are sentenced.

Cohen’s lawyers said in the court filing that they had met and spoken by phone with Southern District prosecutors repeatedly this year, to explore how Cohen might cooperate and earn the office’s support for a post-sentencing reduction.

They said Cohen was offering “valuable information” about alleged misconduct related to Trump and the Trump Organization. The prosecutors ultimately rejected their proposal, they said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

© 2019 The New York Times Company


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