Ex-Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Returns to Prison After Virus Furlough

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, is back behind bars after refusing the terms of home confinement, which include constraints on talking to the press.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year sentence for campaign finance violations and other crimes, was released on a furlough in May and allowed to return to his home in Manhattan for fear of catching the coronavirus in prison. He was on furlough pending formal placement in home confinement but declined to agree to its conditions, which include electronic monitoring and getting approval for interviews, U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Emery Nelson said on Thursday.

Cohen was taken into custody after meeting with probation officials in New York in the morning, Lanny Davis, one of his legal advisers, told reporters on a conference call. He believed the meeting was to sign some papers and receive an ankle-bracelet tracker, Davis said. According to Davis, he wouldn’t agree not to speak to news media, use social media or proceed with the publication of a book.

Ex-Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Returns to Prison After Virus Furlough

Because of the Covid-19 crisis, some federal inmates are released from prison on furloughs, which are administered by local prison officials, and then transferred to home confinement, which can be more restrictive and is supervised by the Bureau of Prisons.

Probation officials on Thursday left Cohen, 53, and his lawyer Jeffrey K. Levine in a room for an hour and a half and returned with three U.S. Marshals, Davis said. When Cohen then said he would sign whatever he needed to in order to stay out of prison, the Marshals said it was out of their hands and took him into custody, transporting him either to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan or to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, Davis said.

“Something seems to me to be off that Michael Cohen is now being put in jail even after he said he’d sign everything,” Davis said. “I raise the question why, where is this coming from?”

Cohen, who had been serving his sentence at a federal camp in Otisville, New York, before his release, was photographed last week eating at an expensive Manhattan restaurant. His legal team denied that violated the terms of his furlough.

It isn’t surprising that Cohen wasn’t taken back into custody after dining out, because inmates on furlough can go out as long as they stay within the furlough area, said Jack Donson, an expert on Bureau of Prisons procedures who now works as a consultant after a career at the agency.

“I am surprised he refused to sign modified restrictive conditions, because the BOP has all the discretion in the world for this privilege,” Donson said. “I think he’ll second-guess that decision, given the difference between home and prison.”

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