The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday it won’t oppose a request by former President Trump adviser Roger Stone to delay the start of his upcoming prison sentence, citing the department’s coronavirus policies.
Stone, 67, cited potential health risks in prison — which he termed a “DEEP STATE DEATH SENTENCE” — as the reason for requesting the delay. Earlier this week, he filed the motion to delay his report date to a federal correctional facility from June 30 until Sept. 3.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is currently the U.S. Department of Justice’s policy … to not oppose a defendant’s request to extend a voluntary surrender date for up to 60 days, unless the defendant poses an immediate public safety or flight risk.” prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Washington D.C. wrote in Thursday’s filing.
Roger Stone leaves federal court in Washington on Nov. 12, 2019. (Associated Press)
“For that reason — and that reason only — the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia does not oppose defendant Roger J. Stone’s request to extend his voluntary surrender date for up to 60 days.”
Stone was sentenced in February to more than three years in prison after his November conviction on charges of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress in connection with the Russia investigation.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson appeared reluctant to accept Stone’s delay request. She reportedly ordered the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington, D.C., to submit its own filing weighing in on why it didn’t oppose Stone’s motion to extend the surrender date and also to provide details about recent coronavirus testing at Federal Correction Institution Jesup, the Georgia-based lockup where Stone is expected to serve his term, according to Politico.
In a series of Instagram posts, Stone also claimed that reporting to the prison on June 30 would amount to a “death sentence” because of coronavirus.
“Despite the fact that the BOP [Bueau of Prisons] is continuing to release violent criminals into the population Roger Stone has been ordered to report to a prison facility on June 30 which poses a substantial risk of COVID-19 infection,” he wrote. “This is nothing less than a DEEP STATE DEATH SENTENCE.”
The decision also comes after Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, who quit the Justice Department over the case, was expected to testify Wednesday that Stone’s sentencing was handled in an “unusual and unprecedented way.”
“What I saw was the Department of Justice Exerting significant pressure on the line prosecutors in the case to obscure the correct Sentencing Guidelines calculation to which Roger Stone was subject — and to water down and in some cases outright distort the events that transpired in his trial and the criminal conduct that gave rise to his conviction,” Zelinsky was expected to say.
“I was also told that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was ‘afraid of the president,’” he was expected to say, noting that it was “deeply unsettling.”
The Bureau of Prisons has seen 6,343 inmates test positive for COVID-19, and 89 have died from the virus, as of early Friday. Twenty prisoners at Jesup have reportedly tested negative and 10 tests remain outstanding, Politico reported.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.