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Senate Republican calls for elderly Ponzi scheme architects to remain jailed despite coronavirus fears

Senate Republican calls for elderly Ponzi scheme architects to remain jailed despite coronavirus fears
© Greg Nash

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) called for Ponzi scheme architects who targeted the elderly, such as Bernie Madoff or Robert Allen Stanford, to remain in jail as some prisoners are being released because of coronavirus fears.

In a letter to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Merrick Garland on list to be Biden's attorney general: report DOJ dropping charges against ex-Mexican defense minister MORE, Kennedy requested the Federal Bureau of Prisons consider the “financial, emotional and physical devastation” prisoners have caused before permitting their early release. The attorney general had instructed the bureau to consider releasing nonviolent criminals who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus because of age or pre-existing medical conditions. 

“Releasing either of these individuals, or anyone similarly situated, would be an affront to those affected by their evil schemes, and a complete failure in the administration of justice,” Kennedy said in his letter. 

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Allen Stanford was convicted in 2012 of 13 felony counts and sentenced to 110 years for running a scheme that impacted 18,000 people. Kennedy wrote that he expects the 70-year-old to apply for early release. 

Madoff, 81, who ran an even larger investment-fraud scheme than Allen Stanford, has pre-existing health issues and has already requested early release.   

“Our efforts should be focused on protecting those who protected us; our parents, grandparents, and military veterans who led crime-free lives,” Kennedy added. “Criminals such as Stanford and Madoff who preyed on the elderly should be the last ones to benefit from the change in circumstances COVID-19 has caused.”

The Louisiana senator also requested the Federal Bureau of Prisons publish information about inmates who are released, including their name, last known address, the prison they were released from, their age and their offense. He also called on state attorneys general to publish the same information.

Advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have advocated for prisoners to be released from jail to avoid making prisons hotspots for coronavirus outbreaks. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has recorded 495 federal inmates and 309 staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, with 22 inmates dying.