A sad-faced former high-rolling attorney, flanked by his wife and children, has until March 6 to surrender himself to authorities. Michael Cohen, who once claimed he would “take a bullet” for President Trump, was ordered Wednesday to spend three years behind bars and pay $100,000.
Referred to by many as a “fixer,” Cohen was Donald Trump’s attorney for years. He recently pleaded guilty to crimes of tax evasion, making false statements to financial institutions, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.
…his client had been treated unlike other defendants.
Cohen is also the first major domino of the president’s inner circle to fall in terms of receiving a significant prison sentence due to Independent Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.
Cohen arrived at a New York courthouse with his family to face the music and hear what the federal government had in store for him. Judge William H. Pauley III handed down his sentence for the crimes Cohen pled guilty to on November 29. In his remarks leading up to the announcement, Judge Pauley said: “Mr. Cohen pled guilty to a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct.” In addressing the court, Mr. Cohen said:
“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted
the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired.”
Cohen’s legal team had asked for a sentence of time served in the sentencing memo they submitted to the court on November 30. Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo, said in front of the judge Wednesday that his client had been treated unlike other defendants. He suggests it’s because “Mr. Cohen had the misfortune to have been counsel to the president.”
Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, asked for a minimum sentence of over four years, and a $500,000 fine. They told the judge “[i]n committing these crimes, Mr. Cohen had eroded faith in the electoral process and compromised the rule of law.” A lawyer on Mueller’s team, Jeannie S. Rhee, said that Cohen provided “credible” information regarding “any links between a campaign and a foreign government.”
Almost no-one understands federal criminal sentencing guidelines, lawyers included. Like the tax code, different “experts” can and do look at the same facts and come out with a different result to a question. After calling calculations under the guidelines “notoriously difficult,” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explains:
In Cohen’s case, it looks like this: five charges of tax evasion (each with a five-year maximum), plus one charge of making a false statement to a bank (30-year max), plus one charge of causing an illegal corporate contribution (five-year max), plus one charge of making an illegal campaign contribution (five-year max). Add it together, and you’ve got a possible 65-year sentence for all eight charges.
Judge Pauley is reported to have said that Cohen must be deterred from future misconduct and sentence must also serve as a warning to others, but also that he deserves credit for coming forward.
This report was compiled by Scott D. Cosenza, Esq. and Leesa K. Donner