Michael Cohen: "The Fixer" Heads to Otisville

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is scheduled to surrender Monday to the federal prison complex at Otisville, NY. Like all Otisville inmates, he will first be evaluated at the medium security prison. When his eval is over, he will walk up the road to satellite prison camp, (a minimum security facility with communal dorm rooms instead of cells that is more like an army barracks than a prison.) According to the Bureau of Prison's Statistical page, today there are 113 inmates at the camp. (Fill in the blanks with "Northeast Region" and "New York" and "Otisville").

Here is an account written by an attorney and friend of mine of his first days at Otisville (published in Chicken Soup for the Soul), and an extremely irreverent but sometimes funny and occasionally insightful blog (if you can get past the deprecating language the Jewish author, a former attorney and Otisville inmate named Lawrence Dressler, uses for his fellow Jews and others which he thinks is funny)about life at Otisville. (He was there for mortgage fraud). Here's his latest post about Michael Cohen.

Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino from the Jersey Shore reality TV show is serving a short sentence at Otisville right now for a tax offense. So is Billy McFarlan of the infamous "Freye Festival". Most but not all of the 113 camp inmates are Jewish and sentenced for white collar or drug offenses. Sorrentino and McFarlan are exceptions.

I highly doubt Cohen will have a problem with other inmates because he cooperated with Mueller. He'll have lots of company on that front. Also, he didn't get a cooperation reduction in the NY case for which he's going top jail. The government wrote in its sentencing brief: [More...]

... Cohen was well aware of the standard debriefing process in which cooperators in this District regularly participate, and declined to participate. While he answered questions about the charged conduct, he refused to discuss other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in which he may have participated. This precludes him from being given credit for “substantial assistance” and obtaining a 5K1.1 letter. The Court should not sentence Cohen as if he has one. That is, the credit given to Cohen should not approximate the credit that a witness with a cooperation agreement and a 5K1.1 letter would merit.

Cohen's major problem at Otisville is likely to be be boredom -- there's not much to do at the camp. I think the best thing his supporters can do for him is buy him a subscription to a magazine or newspaper they think he'll like, or have books sent to him directly from Amazon. Make sure the publisher includes his BOP register number after his name on the mailing label: Michael Cohen, Reg. #86067-054.

Cohen pleaded guilty to willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress. From the Govt's sentencing memo on his and Trump's attempt to influence the election by quashing the stories of two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, citing paragraphs of the Presentence Report (PSR):

During the campaign, Cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the rights to stories – each from women who claimed to have had an affair with Individual-1 – so as to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election. With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. (PSR ¶ 51). In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1. (PSR ¶¶ 41, 45). As a result of Cohen’s actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election. (PSR ¶ 51).

Cohen doesn't just owe the Government prison time. He has a $50k fine and must pay $1.34 million in restitution once he gets released. He also has agreed to forfeit $500k.

Here's the inmate handbook for the Otisville Camp. Clearly, BOP is expecting him, they already have him listed with the note ("Not in BOP Custody").

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    Otisville (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by LarryNoodles on Sat May 11, 2019 at 11:15:03 PM EST
    I spent 18 months in Otisville prison camp.  I write the "extremely irreverent" Larry Noodles blog that Jeralyn refers. I use humor as a way to engage readers, also as a way to connect with readers, as this is who I am. The link to the Chicken Soup book Jeralyn refers to in this article is to a book written by a man who does not do a good job describing how a typical inmate feels about being locked up in prison.  Author and attorney Mickey Sherman writes:  "This was not the Pierre Hotel where I often stayed as a guest of a major network..."  Sherman would never say such a thing in Otisville. I knew inmates who were locked up with Sherman. Sherman does not convey the suffering or anger inmates endure every day. If you are into chicken shmaltz then you should buy Sherman's book. You may not appreciate the humor on my blog.  I don't care.  Some people loved Seinfeld, some hated it. The bottom line is I convey the good, bad and ugly of prison life, and I don't mince words. I have no problem pleading guilty to being "self-depreciating."  Cohen will have many problems with other inmates, regardless of whether he cooperated or not.  There are no other guys locked up in Otisville who cooperated with Mueller, Cohen won't have lots of "company."  There are plenty of other "snitches" in Otisville, but they always deny that they cooperated, nobody wants to be called a "rat" all day in jail. There is a very steep learning curve when you arrive in prison. It is not difficult to learn how to survive in prison. But adjustment can be very difficult for some.  You need to be willing to get along with others, respect others, and behave like a mentsch, not a jerk.  How you use your time is also important.  There is an expression in prison, that you won't read about in the Chicken shmaltz book:  "do your time, don't let the time do you", in other words, use your time constructively, don't let the time do you in, don't let it destroy you.  You need to take control of your "new" life as a lowly criminal inmate and pariah of society, and learn to get along with your new family of fellow pariahs, however difficult that can be for you to accept. Cohen can do three long years, or three short years, its his choice. Most inmates' lives are destroyed beyond repair when they leave prison.  Cohen will have book and movie deals waiting for him when he gets out, just as Mickey Sherman did.  Most inmates have nothing to look forward to and are on edge all the time. Try spending a few days, let alone a few years locked up in close quarters with these guys. There are major problems with the criminal justice system, and the inhumane prison system, that are not being addressed, and are being distorted by the Cohen story that Otisville is Club Fed.  There needs to be radical change, from the bench to the prosecutors offices to the public defenders offices. I hope Jeralyn is up to the task. Moshiach Now!        

    Larry, thank you for commenting (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Sun May 12, 2019 at 01:01:11 PM EST
    here. I've read your blog many times over the past few years. (I didn't just find it when writing about Cohen.) Since you didn't like what Mickey wrote, here is another inspiring account -- of an inmate's first days on Death Row.

    Thank you also for pointing out there is no such thing as a "Club Fed" anymore. Here's a post of mine from 2007 when I point that out, and reprint what another lawyer I know, who had just finished serving 11 months on a misdemeanor tax offense, wrote about the changes that are necessary.


    Otisville (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by LarryNoodles on Sun May 12, 2019 at 01:48:11 PM EST
    I have read many articles by inmates.  Not many writers can actually take you inside.  One of the best I have read recently is this one, in Mens Health magazine of all places: https:/www.menshealth.com/fitness/a27408283/prison-workout-therapy   This article reminded me of my own experience in prison:  I worked out and jogged every day. The author wrote: "I'm depressed, I know I am. No antidepressants, though...My balance is earned in endorphins. Nowadays, workouts have become more for my head and heart--free weights, calisthenics, running..."  Exercise was the only way for me to clear my head.  You become numb after awhile, some guys turn into zombies.  The only inspiring moment is when you are released from prison. After I was released I went right to the beach and sat in front of the ocean for hours.  I had not seen the horizon, ie., distance, for 18 months.

    Your friend Tony Serra has great ideas, which get floated around, unfortunately the prison system in each State is a different animal, with the Feds having their own system. The system is too big and bureaucratic to reform overnight, especially with the public focused on revenge, just look at the comments to that tony Serra article, coming from what I assume to be "liberals" no less, unless you have a right wing following out there.        


    Nobody knows who "deserves" what (none / 0) (#21)
    by jondee on Mon May 13, 2019 at 01:34:01 PM EST
    People like to talk as though they do, but the fact is, most don't have the beginning of a clue.

    May it pass quickly, may the wind be at your back, and don't let the bastards get you down.


    Hmm (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun May 05, 2019 at 04:34:02 PM EST
    Can congress still have him testify while he is in jail?

    Absolutely (none / 0) (#3)
    by Peter G on Sun May 05, 2019 at 10:57:21 PM EST
    I haven't looked it up, but I would bet my boots that Congress has power to issue a command to the BOP to produce a federal prisoner for testimony, equivalent to a court's writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum.

    Inmates testify all the time in court (none / 0) (#2)
    by ragebot on Sun May 05, 2019 at 09:32:25 PM EST
    Don't see why Congress would be different.  Problem is he may not have much testimony to offer.  He tried to get Mueller and 2ndDNY to buy his story and they said 'no thanks'.

    I guess (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon May 06, 2019 at 01:04:30 AM EST
    you have forgotten about the felony indictments for campaign finance fraud that came out of SDNY for Trump. And it's not like any of these just are taking Cohen's word for it. There were supporting recordings and paper trails.

    From last Friday (none / 0) (#8)
    by ragebot on Mon May 06, 2019 at 12:18:50 PM EST
    That is MORE (none / 0) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon May 06, 2019 at 01:40:51 PM EST
    information. You were claiming that there was nothing which is false. When SDNY finishes with Trump we will see all what they believed or did not believe.

    Depressing... (none / 0) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Mon May 06, 2019 at 09:08:06 AM EST
    ... not that these people don't deserve prison, but I cannot imagine the feeling they must have that fist day and how hard it would be not to seriously think about suicide.  I am actually surprised that many more prisoners don't do it.  

    But maybe that's why I don't do felonies, I could never do the time, no way, no how.  

    Probably more so (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 06, 2019 at 09:26:53 AM EST
    When the guy everyone knows directed the crimes you are going in for because he was named in your trial is still in the White House mooning the justice system and congressional oversight and maintain 40ish percent approval generally.

    Hashem help me (none / 0) (#7)
    by jondee on Mon May 06, 2019 at 09:35:33 AM EST
    But I can't help but take a shine to "Larry Noodles." Anyone who can keep a healthy sense of humor and irony in prison is a survivor.

    That line about Michael Cohen getting in touch with his Hasidic-schtetl roots in prison after hanging with millionahs and billionahs in Greenwich Ct was pure gold.

    McGhan is (none / 0) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Tue May 07, 2019 at 04:51:58 PM EST
    muzzled on orders of the White House. McGhan has already testified, at length, to Mueller and is cited multiple times in the Report.  But, Trump's lawyers argue that executive privilege was not asserted in that case.  Now they will exercise it.

    Suggested accommodation:  McGhan testifies to Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt, in keeping with leaker access, and, then, Maggie and Mike testify to Congress.

    Or, just bring McGhan up for contempt of congress, or contempt of democracy. And, then formalize impeachment hearings on Trump.

    Can the white house (none / 0) (#13)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 07, 2019 at 07:11:31 PM EST
    do that? I mean McGhan does not work for them anymore. These days it is so confusing as to what is actually legal with so much illegal stuff going on. I thought McGhan was going to testify and it basically is his decision and Trump cannot make the decision.

    McGhan (none / 0) (#14)
    by KeysDan on Tue May 07, 2019 at 07:48:57 PM EST
    is going along with the WH.   Need to move on him. right away---contempt and Bar Association complaint.

    Yes, I see (none / 0) (#15)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 07, 2019 at 08:09:33 PM EST
    that people who currently work in the white house are being threatened with losing their paychecks. And I agree with you regarding the Bar Association and contempt. I also see congress voting on contempt with Barr is making him sweat. Not a lawyer obviously but can they lose their law license over a contempt charge?

    And now, also SC Mueller (none / 0) (#16)
    by Towanda on Wed May 08, 2019 at 07:11:55 PM EST
    is under executive privilege, the White House claims -- in clear and admitted retribution for the House committee vote of contempt of Congress on AG Barr.

    Can we please keep this thread (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jeralyn on Sun May 12, 2019 at 12:12:20 PM EST
    to Michael Cohen? There's open threads for McGahn until I get around to writing about it.