A federal judge has denied Ponzi schemer Al Parish’s request for compassionate release, ruling that he failed to establish a basis for meeting the requirements for a reduction of his sentence and release.
Parish, 62, argued last month that COVID-19 “imminently threatens” his life because of his underlying medical conditions. Parish says he suffers from arteriosclerosis, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and kidney disease, among other ailments.
The federal government requires that inmates be at least 65 years old; suffering from a terminal illness; or unable to care for themselves. Judge Richard Gergel wrote in his order that Parish meets none of these requirements and did not offer any other “extraordinary and compelling reasons” for his release.
Parish was sentenced in June 2008 to 292 months in prison and is held in the low-security federal correctional institution in Butner, N.C.
Days after Gergel’s ruling, however, it appeared Parish’s fear had come to fruition: He tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.
“Having now developed symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19, Parish can only wait in anxious anticipation for what may come next,” Cameron Blazer, Parish’s attorney, wrote in a motion to reconsider filed Friday.
Parish had been representing himself since attorney Andy Savage withdrew after the sentencing. Friday was Blazer’s first appearance as Parish’s lawyer.
Blazer noted that prior to testing positive, Parish’s health conditions did not establish a basis for his release, but she believes his diagnosis changes the calculus.
“Al Parish does not dispute the seriousness of his offenses,” she wrote. “And if this court were to grant compassionate release, such an order would not be a rebuke of the original sentence. It would, instead, be a reasonable — a compassionate — synthesis of the facts known at the time of sentencing with the facts before the court today.”
The fear, Blazer added, is that if Parish is hospitalized, he will be completely cut off from communicating with his family and will not have access to medical powers of attorney.
The government has until Wednesday to file its response to the motion to reconsider and provide the court with Parish’s updated medical status. Government lawyers had opposed Parish’s initial attempt to obtain compassionate release.s