By ALI DUKAKIS, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — A week before President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone was scheduled to turn himself in to federal prison in Georgia to begin his more than three-year sentence, his lawyers filed a motion seeking to delay his surrender, citing the deadly risk posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
“This motion is based on the exceptional circumstances arising from the serious and possibly deadly risk [Stone] would face in the close confines of a Bureau of Prisons facility, based on his age and medical conditions,” the motion says. “Those medical conditions make the consequences of his exposure to the COVID-19 virus in a prison facility life-threatening.”
The 67-year-old was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Feb. 20 by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C. Stone’s attorneys also asked to file a letter under seal from a physician concerning their client’s medical conditions.
A jury found Stone guilty of lying to Congress and misleading investigators on several key elements of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Stone was a central figure in communications with the Trump campaign about the WikiLeaks plan to disseminate private email and other documents stolen from senior Democrats.
Jackson will need to sign off on the latest bid by Stone to delay his sentence, but his motion was unopposed by the Department of Justice. Late Tuesday, Jackson ordered the Justice Department to make their own filing to explain its position on Stone’s start date.
The request comes as the prosecutor who handled Stone’s case is preparing to tell Congress that he repeatedly felt pressured to go easy on Stone because of the defendant’s personal friendship with the president.
The Republican political strategist, who lives in Florida, was scheduled to report to a federal prison camp in Georgia to serve his sentence beginning June 30. Stone’s attorneys asked that the start date be pushed back to Sept. 3. The prison assignment location is not expected to change if Stone’s motion to delay his surrender is granted.
While five inmates at the Georgia prison camp have been tested for coronavirus, there are no confirmed positive cases at the facility, according to current Bureau of Prisons data reviewed by ABC News and cited in Tuesday’s filing.
A spokesperson for BOP referred ABC News’ questions to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. A request to the Justice Department for comment was not immediately answered. Stone’s attorney Seth Ginsberg did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Stone had previously moved to have a new trial, alleging juror misconduct, but Judge Jackson denied the request, writing in her decision that “the conviction is final, and that Stone failed to “[supply] any reason to believe that there has been ‘a serious miscarriage of justice."”
In late April, Stone filed a notice of appeal with the D.C. circuit court. Attorneys representing Stone on appeal, Ginsberg along with David Schoen, wrote that Stone is appealing Jackson’s judgement in his criminal case imposing his sentencing and the judge’s order denying Stone’s bid for a new trial.
At Stone’s sentencing, Jackson recommended Stone serve his sentence as close as possible to his family in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
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