Michael Cohen's request for home confinement amid coronavirus denied in scathing order

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A federal judge forcefully denied Michael Cohen's request to either be set free early or serve the rest of his sentence under home confinement after he claimed that the coronavirus outbreak presents a danger that makes it unsafe for him to remain in prison.

Judge William H. Pauley III was not swayed by Cohen's request for leniency. To the contrary, he suggested the outbreak made for a cynical justification for the former Trump attorney's request after a previous attempt to secure a lighter sentence failed.

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"Apparently searching for a new argument to justify a modification of his sentence to home confinement, Cohen now raises the specter of COVID-19," Pauley wrote in a Tuesday order. "That Cohen would seek to single himself out for release to home confinement appears to be just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle."

Last week, Cohen appeared to try a different avenue for early release, as his Twitter account shared an online petition calling for the president to have the Federal Bureau of Prisons allow prisoners like him to be released and placed under home detention during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. So far, he has had no luck with that.

Pauley agreed with prosecutors that Cohen "is 'manifestly ineligible' for compassionate release and has not exhausted his administrative remedies."

Cohen began serving a three-year sentence on May 6, 2019, following a guilty plea to offenses including campaign finance violations, various financial crimes and providing false statements to Congress.

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After his sentencing, Pauley pointed out, Cohen tried to get a reduced sentence by working with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, but then "made material and false statements in his post-sentencing proffer sessions."

Pauley added that after Cohen had failed to show how he helped prosecutors with their investigations, he then accused the prosecutors of acting improperly.

"Those ad hominem attacks lack any substance and do not trigger the right to a remedy or a hearing before this court," Pauley wrote.

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The judge noted that the "fatal flaw" with Cohen's motion for a reduced or modified sentence — made under Rule 35(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure — is that only the prosecution can file a motion of this nature.

"Ten months into his prison term, it's time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far-reaching institutional harms," Pauley wrote. "For these reasons, Cohen's application to reduce or modify his sentence is denied."

Fox News' Marta Dhanis contributed to this report.