Skip to comments.Judge won’t release Avenatti over coronavirus fears
Posted on 03/23/2020 9:10:48 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
A federal judge in Los Angeles has rejected a plea from prominent convicted lawyer Michael Avenatti to be released from jail because of the risk he could contract the coronavirus.
U.S. District Court Judge James Selna turned aside Avenattis claims that a bout he had with pneumonia last September puts him in grave danger if COVID-19 begins to rampage through federal prisons like the Manhattan detention center where hes currently locked up.
Avenatti, who was convicted by a New York federal court jury last month on charges of trying to extort shoemaking giant Nike and is facing other federal charges in Manhattan and Los Angeles, also contended that his cellmate was recently removed after exhibiting fever and a severe cough.
But Selna, who revoked Avenattis bail in January based on evidence of extensive financial manipulation, said the health concerns were not adequate to justify his release.
The Court is mindful of the Covid 19 pandemic, Selna wrote in a three-page order Saturday. The Court accepts Avenattis showing that the had pneumonia about six months ago. ... However, there is no showing that his cellmate was infected by the virus, and there have been no reportedcases of Covid 19 at the New York MCC.
There is no basis to release Avenatti on medical grounds, added Selna, an appointee of President George W. Bush. The Bureau of Prisons and MCC specifically have taken substantial steps to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. MCC has moved at-risk prisoners, which presumably includes Avenatti, to a separate unit.
Avenatti rose to prominence in 2018 after filing a suit against President Donald Trump on behalf of adult film star Stormy Daniels, seeking to void a non-disclosure agreement the pair reached just prior to the 2016 election a deal that appeared intended to hush up claims she and Trump had sex a decade earlier. Avenatti became a fixture on cable news shows and briefly mulled entering the 2020 Democratic presidential race.
However, Avenatti and Daniels had an acrimonious relationship, with the porn star eventually switching to another lawyer last year. One of the three pending criminal cases against Avenatti involves charges he swindled Daniels out of nearly $300,000.
Federal prosecutors opposed Avenattis recent request for release, arguing that his risk of infection is minimal and entirely manageable.
Defendant has not cited any information or evidence demonstrating that defendant, who is an otherwise healthy 49-year man, is at greater risk from COVID-19 merely because he may have had pneumonia six months ago, government lawyers wrote. Thus, there is no reason to conclude that defendants personal circumstances are meaningfully distinguishable from the vast majority of individuals detained in BOP facilities or would justify the extraordinary relief he now seeks.
The prosecution also said Avenattis history indicated that the California resident was not only likely to defy court orders, but also the statewide lockdown ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
A person who ignores such admonitions and rules could increase infection rates, leading to severe illness and death. Defendant has shown an unwillingness or inability to follow rules, and a disregard for the welfare of others. Thus, defendants failure to follow rules poses particular dangers to the community, prosecutors wrote.
Documents submitted by the government said officials at the Manhattan detention center where Avenatti is located have taken numerous steps to limit the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, including screening prisoners and staff for fevers, distributing more soap and segregating most prisoners over 55.
However, H. Dean Steward, a lawyer for Avenatti, said the conditions at the lower-Manhattan jail known as the MCC are deplorable and are inviting a major COVID outbreak.
"Mr. Avenatti s cell contained three rats," Steward wrote. "Inmates on one unit were forced to share one toilet among 26 people, and prevented from washing their clothing: prime conditions for the spread, rather than containment, of infectious disease."
The federal Bureau of Prisons reported its first confirmed case of novel coronavirus Saturday, involving an inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Two staff members at BOP facilities in Kansas and Texas have also been stricken by the illness.
Avenattis trial in the New York case involving stealing from Daniels is set to open April 21, but the judge handling that matter said last week it seemed highly doubtful it would go forward then due to virus-related suspensions of most proceedings in federal courts nationwide.
Avenattis trial on fraud, perjury, tax dodging, and embezzlement charges in the Los Angeles case is scheduled for May 19, but Selna said that will likely be postponed as well.
Avenatti's sentencing on the Nike extortion charges is set for June 17.
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.
Put him in the hole.
“Mr. Avenatti s cell contained three rats,”
Hillary, Chucky Cheese and Pelosi were their names
Quite ironic, considering that numerous governors are releasing prisoners because of the supposed risk of catching the virus in jail....
Well, if you release Avenatti, you set a precedent for releasing a lot of people.
Drug dealers - out.
People who pissed off the political establishment - do the time.
They need to release him. He is running for POTUS.
I’d go a step further and inject him with it.
You’re correct the risk is quite low. There really is little or almost no risk of getting corona virus in jail. Even though those in jail might be more likely to spit on each other and hygiene isn’t as good at home, living in close quarters really has no effect on the spread as we saw with cruise ships, busses, airplanes, etc. Those in jail also have immediate access to healthcare, so that if they develop a fever or cough, they will be quickly and efficiently treated by some of the best trained doctors in the country.
Let’s face it even if the risk is high, the value of these people’s lives is nothing and if they die its of no concern to anyone. Furthermore, they can’t pass the virus on to guards, healthcare food service workers in the jail because the virus doesn’t spread to non inmates.
These people must pay their debt to society and if some are a little bit nervous about CoV, too bad. Everyone going to jail deserves it including non violent and drug offenders that are harming everyone else. The justice system is excellent in this county and anyone that thinks that some people are wrongly charged or that sentences are excessive is crazy. Even though the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, Americans are by nature very prone to criminal and violent activities, much, much worse by many multiples that any other county.
I like it!
Wow.. 12 posts and no one suggested putting him in solitary?
That would solve his problem - he’s completely “socially distanced” in there!
I think somebody in a previous post said to put him in the hole, I figured they meant solitary. If they put him in psych for a week, he’d be begging to come back to general population.
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