Duncan Hunter granted delayed start to prison sentence over coronavirus

Duncan Hunter granted delayed start to prison sentence over coronavirus
© Greg Nash

A federal judge has granted former Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterHarris endorses Democrat in tight California House race Democrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Lobbying world MORE (R-Calif.) a delay to starting his 11-month prison sentence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Whelan, a Clinton appointee, granted a motion Thursday saying the former congressman needs to surrender to serve his prison sentence before Jan. 4., 2021, according to NBC News.

The previous surrender date was May 29, NBC reported.

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Hunter's sentence, which includes three years of supervised probation, was handed down in March after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations. He stepped down from his congressional seat in January.

Prosecutors and Hunter’s attorney commended the judge's decision, saying it was appropriate “due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unknown impacts the disease will have in the coming months," according to the news outlet. 

In exchange for the delay, Hunter agreed not to seek any sentence modifications, NBC reported, citing a court filing.

The delay in Hunter's jail time comes as the coronavirus has ravaged the U.S. prison system. Due to the close living quarters and asymptomatic inmates who can serve as carriers of the disease, prisons have become hotbeds for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Seventy percent of federal inmates who’ve been tested for the virus received positive results, according to the Bureau of Prisons. But only 2,700 inmates were tested, a fraction of the overall prison population.

Several other high-profile convicts have been granted leeway during the pandemic. Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represented adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in litigation against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection MORE, was temporarily released from prison due to concerns about the virus. 

Avenatti was convicted earlier this year for attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike.

Former Trump lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package Michael Cohen offered job as political consultant, lawyer says On The Money: Democratic leaders report 'some progress' in stimulus talks | Prosecutors hint at probe into 'possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization' MORE has also sought to serve his prison sentence in home confinement due to the pandemic.