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Parish asks to be released from prison because of COVID-19

Staff //April 20, 2020//

Parish asks to be released from prison because of COVID-19

Staff //April 20, 2020//

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Convicted Ponzi scheme mastermind Al Parish, who swindled about $66 million from hundreds of people, is asking the court to release him from prison in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

Parish has been representing himself since attorney Andy Savage withdrew after the sentencing.

In a handwritten motion (.pdf) filed April 10, Parish said 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.

Parish, who will be 63 in August, said he has to use a walker to keep from falling in case of a sudden attack of atrial fibrillation.

Additionally, Parish said he has made three trips to hospitals outside of prison since being incarcerated, including two trips for heart problems and one for a bleeding ulcer, which required a transfusion of four units of blood.

The Federal Corrections Complex in Butner, which includes two medium-security facilities, one low-security facility and a medical center, has had 92 cases of COVID-19, including 65 inmates and 27 staff members who have tested positive. Five inmates in one of the medium-security facilities have died of the coronavirus.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to considering moving inmates to home confinement based on their risk for the coronavirus; the security level where they’re held; their conduct; their crimes; and whether they have a re-entry plan to prevent recidivism and keep the public safe.

Parish said he believes he qualifies under these guidelines and should be released.

His re-entry plan includes living with his wife of 25 years in Henderson, N.C., and Parish said he will have health insurance through his wife until he is eligible for Medicare. Parish said he would also began drawing Social Security given his health, and he said he might try to teach online if his health permits.

Prior to his conviction, Parish was an economics professor at Charleston Southern University.

In a letter attached to his handwritten motion, Parish said he lacks access to a typewriter because of the coronavirus lockdown of the prison system.

“My motion is printed, but I believe it is clear,” Parish wrote.

He added that because he also doesn’t have access to a copier, he cannot send medical records or other exhibits, but “under penalty of perjury,” he swears the information in his motion is true and accurate.

The federal government has until April 28 to respond to Parish’s motion.

Parish had previously asked to be resentenced based on the fact that Judge David Norton, who sentenced Parish in 2008, had purchased a set of cufflinks for $700 at an auction of Parish’s property meant to recoup some of the funds he stole. Judge Richard Gergel, who works alongside Norton, denied Parish’s request in May.