Court filings show that New York federal judge Jed Rakoff has rejected the request of a 61-year-old toy merchant-turned Silk Road vendor for a compassionate release amid the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 New Yorkers.
Judge Rakoff found that the inmate had failed to present an “extraordinary and compelling” case for his release on April 13.
The former Silk Road vendor, Hugh Haney, had requested a temporary release on April 8. His representation, Martin Cohen, argued that the Manhattan Metropolitan Detention Center was on the verge of a severe COVID-19 outbreak — asserting that only seven of 1,700 inmates had then been tested for coronavirus, three of which had been confirmed positive.
Haney’s argument justifies releasing "every federal inmate" over 60
The judge emphasized that the prisoner “is less than 65 years old and — unlike many of the prisoners who have applied in recent days for release because they suffer from asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or other deleterious health conditions that make them unusually vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 — Haney is in reasonably good health."
While Judge Rakoff noted that “Haney’s age of 61 places him at a higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19 than the general prison population,” he asserted that the argument underpinning their request would justify the release of “every federal inmate in the country above the age of 60.”
Haney sold oxycodone over the dark web
Haney has served nine months of a 42-month sentence for selling oxycodone on Silk Road in 2012. While the toy merchant had quit that year after amassing a modest $10,000 in Bitcoin (BTC), Haney was arrested in July 2019 after attempting to liquidate his BTC holdings which were then valued at $19 million.
Judge Rakoff allowed Haney the opportunity to appeal the ruling on the basis that his lawyer provided ineffective representation, however, he posited that said appeal would comprise a “doubtful proposition.”