WASHINGTON -- A federal judge Friday denied a request by President Donald Trump's ally Roger Stone for a two-month delay before he begins serving his prison term, despite the fact that his motion was unopposed by the Justice Department.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted Stone an additional two weeks before he must report to a federal prison in Jesup, Ga., but ordered that he be placed under home confinement in the meantime.
In a trial that Jackson oversaw, a jury convicted Stone in November on seven felony charges, including lying to federal investigators, tampering with a witness and impeding a congressional inquiry.
The judge in February sentenced Stone, a former campaign adviser to Trump, to 40 months in prison.
The Bureau of Prisons initially ordered Stone, 67, to report to prison in April, then put off the date until June 30 after the judge, in an order denying him a new trial, said his imprisonment should begin no sooner than April 30.
Then this month, citing the pandemic, Stone asked Jackson to delay his imprisonment until Sept. 1. He noted his age and health concerns, which were not publicly revealed.
Prosecutors told Jackson that they did not oppose the delay.
The Justice Department's handling of Stone's case has been deeply fraught. He was among the former Trump aides who were charged as a result of the investigation by then-special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
After Attorney General William Barr reversed their sentencing recommendation for a stiff prison term, four career prosecutors quit the case and one of them left the Justice Department entirely. Last week, in a statement to the House Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing, one of those prosecutors said his superiors cited "heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break."
"What I heard -- repeatedly -- was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president," said the prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, who has left his assignment in the U.S. attorney's office in Washington but remains a department prosecutor in Baltimore.
Barr has dismissed Zelinsky's account as hearsay.
In an Instagram post this month, Stone complained that he had been ordered to serve his sentence in a prison that had a "substantial" problem with the coronavirus, while other high-profile prisoners were granted reprieves.
But Jackson wrote that Stone's prison was as yet "unaffected." She said two weeks of home confinement would help protect other inmates "who share defendant's anxiety over the potential introduction and spread of the virus."