Roger Stone Should Go to Prison During Pandemic, U.S. Says in Reversal
(Bloomberg) -- Republican operative Roger Stone said it was “indefensible” for the U.S. Justice Department to withdraw its support for his request to delay reporting to prison by two months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stone, sentenced to 40 months behind bars for lying to Congress during the Russia probe, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington t for lying to Congress during the Russia probe, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to let him report to prison on Sept. 3 instead of July 14 after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied his request, which was unopposed by the government.
On Thursday, the Justice Department told the appeals court it was withdrawing its earlier support for Stone’s motion in deference to Jackson’s authority over the case, saying she’s properly taken into account that Stone was convicted of threatening a witness and that he stoked violent sentiment against jurors and the judge.
The reversal comes two days after Stone indirectly asked President Donald Trump to commute his sentence, which would allow him to remain free while he appeals his conviction.
Stone said in a text message that there’s no “reasonable explanation” for the government’s change of heart, adding that Jackson’s denial of his request was falsely based on a belief that there isn’t a virus outbreak at the facility where he’s headed -- a medium-security federal lockup in Jesup, Georgia.
“I find the government opposition to my appeal baffling and indefensible in view of the fact that none of the facts have changed since we made our emergency motion to Judge Jackson other than the fact that there were no confirmed Covid-19 cases at the Jesup correctional facility then but there are at least 20 now,” Stone said.
A call to the Jesup facility wasn’t answered and an email wasn’t immediately returned.
The Justice Department said it supported Jackson’s finding that the underlying medical condition Stone cited in justifying his request was “medically controlled” and didn’t necessarily put the 67-year-old at greater risk of contracting the virus behind bars. His own doctor said that risk was speculation, the U.S. noted. Jackson did give Stone an extra two weeks -- to July 14 -- though she ruled he needed to spend that time in home confinement.
“Although the government did not oppose appellant’s 60-day extension request, the district court’s independent decision to extend appellant’s self-surrender date for 14 days is a reasonable exercise of that court’s discretion based on the totality of the factual and legal circumstances,” the U.S. said.
Stone, an early Trump booster, has appealed his conviction and argues the judge and jury were biased against him. He’s also alleged misconduct by biased prosecutors and sought to tie his case to that of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whose prosecution was scrapped by the Justice Department in May even after the former Trump official pleaded guilty.
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