(Reuters) - Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, has been placed in solitary confinement at a federal prison in New York state where he is serving time for violating campaign finance laws, according to his lawyer and two sources familiar with the matter.
Cohen, 53, was transferred on Wednesday to a Special Housing Unit at Otisville Federal Correctional Institution, a disciplinary section of the prison, the sources said.
Until now, Cohen had been housed in a minimum-security camp at Otisville, which is about 70 miles (110 km) northwest of New York City.
One of the sources said Cohen was placed in solitary after another inmate complained about his internet use.
“It is my understanding that a verbal dispute over phone use prompted a temporary placement to SHU pending an investigation. I do not however know who prompted the altercation, or if the action taken was factually/ regulatory appropriate,” Cohen’s lawyer, Roger Adler, said in an email to Reuters.
A former representative for Cohen, Lanny Davis, declined to comment.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons said it could not comment on the circumstances of individual inmates.
Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for directing hush payments to pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Trump has denied having the encounters.
In March, Cohen argued that he should be released from prison early because of the coronavirus outbreak and the risk of contracting COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory illness caused by the virus.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan rebuffed the request in a scathing order.
“Ten months into his prison term, it’s time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far reaching institutional harms,” the judge wrote on March 23.
Adler said in an email that he had sent a letter on Tuesday requesting compassionate release for Cohen despite Pauley’s order.
Adler called the disciplinary action a “hiccup” in the process and said he was hopeful that Cohen would be returned to the prison’s general population when “all the facts are known.”
Cohen is eligible for release in November 2021.
Reporting by Aram Roston and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Jonathan Oatis