Around 36 hours before Harvey Weinstein is set to discover how long he is going to prison for, the disgraced producer and convicted sex offender’s defense team today say they want the judge to low ball the sentence.
“Please accept this letter as our request that the Court sentence Mr. Weinstein to a period of incarceration of five years,” wrote attorneys Donna Routunno, Damon Cheronis and Arthur Aidala to Judge James Burke late this evening as the determining March 11 hearing looms (read the letter here).
Full of citations about the currently Rikers Island incarcerated Oscar winning producer’s charitable works, naming dropping Nelson Mandela and Paul Newman, the fact he is a “first-time offender” and more, the correspondence also comes just three days after the Manhattan District Attorney’s office essentially recommended to Empire State Supreme Court Judge Burke that he bury the 67-year old Weinstein and his “total lack of remorse.”
Found guilty of a criminal sex act and rape on February 24, Weinstein is facing a sentence from five to 29 years under New York law.
According to the trio of lawyers and the average life expectancy of a white male of Weinstein’s age, getting the maximum that the D.A. clearly desires could kill the often-hobbled producer. “Given his age and specific medical risk factors, any additional term of imprisonment above the mandatory minimum—although the grave reality is that Mr. Weinstein may not even outlive that term— is likely to constitute a de facto life sentence,” asserts the 7-page letter to Judge Burke.
“By way of background, Mr. Weinstein, like most people, is complicated and the trial did not fairly portray who he is as a person,” the correspondence from the defense teams also notes in its plea for leniency. “His life story, his accomplishments, and struggles are simply remarkable and should not be disregarded in total because of the jury’s verdict,” they say.
With an appeal undoubtedly coming soon, the consequence of that verdict will be for Judge Burke to decide on Wednesday. As the dust settles of sorts from the L.A. County D.A. primary last week, it will also likely see Weinstein soon inside a West Coast courtroom to face charges here that incumbent Jackie Lacey made public on January 6 – the first day of the rape trial in NYC.
Of course, with Weinstein just recently moved from the Big Apple’s Bellevue Hospital to the infirmary at Rikers and already having suffered at least one fall due to not having his once omnipresent walker, there is a chance that the March 11 sentencing hearing could be delayed, Yet, right now, it is still full steam ahead with the Chicago-based Routunno and Cheronis flying in to New York tomorrow, I hear.
First arrested New York in late May 2018, Weinstein faced two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape in New York. Subject to travel restrictions reinforced last August 7, he had been out on a $5 million bail after entering a not guilty plea on July 9, 2018. Weinstein entered a plea of not guilty again on August 26 last year when a new indictment was added.
Accused by Ashley Judd in a now temporarily halted case, failing to get a sex-trafficking class action tossed out, and the subject of a more recent lawsuit from a woman who says he abused her when she was 16 in 2002, Weinstein is also facing allegations from close to 100 other women who say he sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them. At present, several of those individuals are refusing to participate in a potential $25 million over-arching settlement that is part of an overall $45 million deal on the table. News has been quiet on that front for several weeks and, as a letter by several accusers today to the Attorney General of New York state made obvious, look more unlikely by the hour.
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