Michael Cohen‘s attorney Guy Petrillo delivered an impassioned statement in federal court before his client was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday. In addition to defending Cohen by lauding his decision to cooperate with prosecutors despite putting himself at odds with the President of the United States, Petrillo took some shots at federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York (SDNY) for apparently not being so appreciative of Cohen’s help. Petrillo used to work at the SDNY.
SDNY prosecutors weren’t satisfied with what Cohen had to say and recommended “substantial” prison time in their sentencing memo. Petrillo claimed Cohen was being penalized for not signing a formal cooperation agreement. Petrillo said that this was because Cohen didn’t want his family to be forced to live under the “glare” of attention brought by such an agreement, which could last indefinitely. Despite not making such a deal, Cohen was—and remains—willing to answer questions, Petrillo said.
“I don’t really understand the strident tone of the the memo,” Petrillo said, pointing out that Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s office has had quite a different attitude towards Cohen. Indeed, Jeannie Rhee of Special Counsel’s Office went out of her way in court to highlight the “credible and reliable” information that Cohen gave them.
One suggestion that Petrillo gave for why the SDNY lawyers were acting differently than Mueller’s team indicated some potential jealousy. Towards the end of his statement, Petrillo said that maybe there was “a little pride involved here in not being the center of attention.”
When it was the SDNY’s time to speak, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos fired back with some hostility towards Petrillo, saying “there’s a standard way in which this office conducts cooperation,” and they treated Cohen like anyone else. Cohen, meanwhile, decided not to cooperate in the standard way. At the same time, Roos recognized the value of Cohen’s cooperation with Mueller’s office, and said SDNY prosecutors took this into account when making their sentencing recommendation.
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