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Judge suspends ex-Trump campaign aide Rick Gates' prison sentence over coronavirus

Prison in the time of coronavirus
Prison in the time of coronavirus 07:35

Washington — A federal judge has indefinitely suspended former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates' 45-day prison sentence, which he was serving intermittently, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an order Tuesday halting his intermittent confinement "pending further order of the court." Jackson, of the federal district court in the District of Columbia, also asked the probation office to submit a report by May 5 detailing Gates' compliance with his probation, including the number of weekend days he has served in confinement and the number of community service hours completed.

Gates, 47, was sentenced in December to three years probation and 45 days behind bars, which he can serve on weekends or under a schedule set by probation officers. He is also required to complete 300 hours of community service.

Gates' lawyer on Sunday asked the court to allow him to serve the remainder of his sentence under home confinement because of potential exposure to the coronavirus, which they warned could negatively impact his wife, who is receiving treatment for cancer and has a weakened immune system.

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is seen after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington Dec. 11, 2017.
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is seen after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington on December, 11, 2017. Reuters/Joshua Roberts

"The massive social disruptions caused by this pandemic are tragic, and the burdens they have placed on Mr. Gates and his family warrant a modification of the condition on his probation," his attorney Thomas Green wrote in a filing to the court. "The gravity of the virus and its potential impact on Mrs. Gates are substantial. If Mr. Gates were to return to his home carrying the virus, it would create serious ramifications for his wife. Due to her cancer treatment, her immune system is compromised, placing her at heightened risk for serious side effects or worse if she were to be infected with the coronavirus."

Gates, a close deputy to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was among the six Trump associates who were charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

He pleaded guilty in February 2018 to conspiracy and lying to federal investigators and agreed to cooperate with the government. Gates was a star witness in Manafort's trial, detailing how he helped the longtime political consultant conceal millions of dollars from work in Ukraine by forging financial records and IRS forms. He also testified in trials involving Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to President Trump, and Greg Craig.

Gates served as Manafort's deputy after he was tapped for chairman of the Trump campaign and then as a liaison between the campaign and the Republican National Committee. Gates also was deputy chairman of President Trump's inaugural committee.

Clare Hymes contributed to this report.

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