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December 12, 2018

Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in federal prison ... and joins ranks rooting hard for passage of the FIRST STEP Act

As predicted by some, Prez Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen received a below-guideline and below-the-prosecutor-recommended sentence today from US District Judge William Pauley in New York City.  This Fox News report, headlined "Michael Cohen, former Trump attorney, gets 3 years in prison for tax fraud, campaign finance violations, lying," provides these details:

Michael Cohen, the president’s former fixer who once famously claimed he was willing to "take a bullet" for Donald Trump before later turning against his boss, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday by a federal judge in New York after pleading guilty to numerous crimes while cooperating with prosecutors.

Before sentencing, Cohen ripped into his former boss in federal court, telling the judge he felt it was his duty to cover up the president's “dirty deeds.”

Cohen appeared before U.S. District Judge William Pauley III for sentencing after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about Trump’s past business dealings in Russia. He was seen entering the Manhattan courthouse Wednesday accompanied by members of his family.  Speaking in court before the judge issued the sentence, Cohen said “blind loyalty” to Trump led him “to take a path of darkness instead of light.”

Cohen doesn't have to report to prison until March 6.  He also was ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution and a $50,000 fine, and forfeit $500,000.

A contrite Cohen, speaking in court, told the judge he takes “full responsibility for each act,” saying the “sooner I am sentenced, the sooner I can return to my family." Cohen also apologized to the people of the United States, saying, "You deserve to know the truth."...

Trump has lashed out at Cohen over his cooperation with prosecutors, recently saying Cohen “lied” and deserves to “serve a full and complete sentence.” A sentencing memo filed by prosecutors said Cohen “acted in coordination and at the direction of” Trump in making those payments.” But in a tweet this week, Trump denied the payments to Daniels and McDougal were campaign contributions, instead calling them a “simple private transaction.” Trump also said if mistakes were made, the “liability” should be with Cohen, his lawyer, and not him. “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced,” the president tweeted Monday.

As the title of this post is meant to highlight, among the notable features of Cohen's federal prosecution and sentencing is that it has taken place during the same period that Congress has been debating significant prison reform measures in the FIRST STEP Act.  Assuming the FIRST STEP Act becomes law and is being effectively implemented before Cohen has to report to prison in March, it seems quite likely that some of the provisions in the FIRST STEP Act may enable Cohen to return to his family at least a bit sooner.  Indeed, Cohen may be an especially good high-profile offender to follow to see how much he is able to benefit from any new prison reforms.

Prior related posts:

December 12, 2018 at 01:23 PM | Permalink


A fair sentence, IMO.

Posted by: Career AFPD | Dec 12, 2018 1:42:13 PM

And after all of this we still don't have any dirt on trump.

Posted by: Yes | Dec 12, 2018 5:05:47 PM

Yes, if you think there is no "dirt on trump" [sic], then you are either ignoring fact or are ignorant of facts. Trump aided and abetted Cohen's crimes -- crimes to which Cohen pled guilty to and admitted he did it at Trump's direction. I've had several federal clients request that a crime be committed and have someone else commit them, only to be prosecuted as an aider and abettor. I tell you this -- but for Trump being President, he would have unquestionably been indicted along with Cohen. You can say you don't care, or you can say you don't believe it. But you certainly can't say, intelligently, that there aren't facts that would tend to implicate Trump in a crime.

Posted by: WRW | Dec 12, 2018 10:15:15 PM

...it seems quite likely that some of the provisions in the FIRST STEP Act may enable Cohen to return to his family at least a bit sooner.

For those who think this could mean that his sentence will be shorter than the three years:
Let me start by saying I might be wrong, but as I understand the First Step Act, the only way to shorten the sentence is by increasing the number of good time days. Currently, an inmate gets 47 good time days/year. If FSA passes, he will get 54 days/year. So Cohen would be released three weeks earlier if FSA is passed. I waited for my husband to come home so I know that even three weeks will be welcome. He might be able to "earn" an earlier release to a federal halfway house or to home confinement but that is NOT a shortening of his sentence. He is still serving his BOP sentence while at the HWH or during home confinement.

As for his ability to earn earlier HWH/home confinement, it will depend on programming in place at his facility. Will new programming be introduced that will let him prove that he's learning not to commit those crimes again? Will it be intro'd in time for him to take advantage? I would assume that people on the tailend of a much longer sentence would have first chance at any of qualifying programming, so his three years might pass without him ever getting near those classes. A short sentence might be a handicap for those who need time to earn anything.

Posted by: marie | Dec 13, 2018 11:16:46 AM

without question Trump is the most corrupt president since Nixon.

Posted by: anon1 | Dec 16, 2018 9:43:39 PM

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