Paul Manafort, President Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, is no longer Jeffrey Epstein's fellow inmate at a federal prison in Manhattan, The Daily Beast has learned.
Last week, the 70-year-old Manafort was moved from the Metropolitan Correctional Center to FCI Loretto in Pennsylvania, prison records and his lawyer confirmed. The relocation follows the departure of another high-profile fellow jailbird, Mexican drug lord El Chapo, who was transferred from MCC to Colorado’s Supermax lockup.
The disgraced political operative is serving seven-and-a-half years behind bars for crimes including tax fraud, bank fraud and hiding a foreign bank account. He also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and conspiracy against the U.S. in connection to his failure to register as a foreign lobbyist for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Minutes after his sentencing in March of this year, Manafort was indicted in Manhattan state court on 16 charges including residential mortgage fraud and falsifying business records. He has pleaded not guilty.
In June, Manafort was transferred from the low-security Pennsylvania clink to the Manhattan penitentiary that’s held infamous prisoners like mob boss John Gotti, Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, and terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov.
Manafort was spared a stay at the violent Rikers Island, where he was slated for solitary confinement, after the Department of Justice intervened. Federal officials stepped in after Manafort’s lawyers cited concerns over his health and safety.
The Bureau of Prisons website now lists Manafort at Loretto. “It’s a much better environment for a 70-year-old man,” Manafort’s attorney, Todd Blanche, told CNBC last month.
Blanche had requested Manafort be returned to Pennsylvania prison while his New York case is pending. The convicted grifter is not expected to appear in Manhattan criminal court until the end of the year, since a judge agreed he could be excused from the next court conference, Blanche told The Daily Beast on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Epstein was discovered “in some kind of medical distress” in his MCC jail cell on Tuesday. “He had apparent bruising on his neck,” one source told The Daily Beast, adding that Epstein was “medically OK” by Wednesday.
Reports have suggested Epstein tried to hang himself and is allegedly on suicide watch, or that the 66-year-old millionaire sex-offender purposefully harmed himself in a bid to get transferred out of the Manhattan prison.
Brutal and isolating conditions at the federal MCC—especially its “10 South” wing, where the lights are on 23 hours a day—have made headlines in recent years, albeit less so than the sprawling Rikers Island. In recent years, one prisoner called Guantánamo “more pleasant” than the high-security Manhattan jail, and a top-level mobster described it as a “torture chamber.”
Last October, Joshua Schulte, a CIA coder charged with providing documents to WikiLeaks and held in solitary confinement, claimed MCC officials were subjecting him and other inmates to “cruel and unusual punishment” in the segregated unit.
Schulte, in a letter to a judge, detailed the alleged conditions: “The shit-filled showers where you leave dirtier than when you entered; the flooding of the tiers and cages with ice cold water; the constant blast of cold air as we are exposed to extreme cold without blankets or long-sleeve shirts; the uncontrollable lights that are always on as we are sleep deprived.... No human being should ever have to experience this torture.”
In 2017, El Chapo, whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán, complained about the environment. According to one New York Times report, his lawyers requested an Amnesty International researcher be allowed inside to investigate Guzmán’s treatment, which involved being locked in a cell for 23 hours a day without any contact with his family.
At his sentencing last week, Guzmán again complained about MCC and said the federal prison was “torture.”
“I’ve been forced to drink unsanitary water. I’ve been denied access to fresh air and sunlight. The only sunlight I have in my cell comes through in the air vent,” he told the court through a translator, adding, “I have been physically, psychologically, mentally tortured 24 hours a day.”