WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Sunday ruled that Chicagoan George Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign policy campaign adviser, must start his 14-day sentence on Monday, rejecting a bid to stay out of prison while a separate case challenging the legality of Robert Mueller’s special counsel Russia probe appointment is pending.
“Papadopoulos has failed to carry his burden of demonstrating a delay in the execution of his sentence is warranted,” U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss wrote in a 13-page opinion.
In the Sunday ruling, Moss was also irritated about the Thanksgiving week timing of Papadopoulos’ last-ditch effort to delay reporting to prison.
“Papadopoulos waited until the eleventh hour to seek relief; indeed, he did not file his second motion — the stay request — until the last business day before he was scheduled to surrender to serve his sentence,” Moss wrote.
In September, Moss sentenced Papadopoulos to 14 days in prison, one year of supervised release, 200 hours of community service and a $9,500 fine.
At that time, Moss noted in his ruling, Papadopoulos waived, as part of this plea deal, any right to challenge or modify his conviction and sentence.
Papadopoulos pled guilty on Oct. 5, 2017 to one count of making false statements to the FBI and at the time did not raise an objection to Mueller’s appointment.
Papadopoulos’ lawyers argued that if Mueller were found to be improperly appointed, then the charge against Papadopoulos would be invalid.
Moss turned down that last-minute argument to support what Papadopoulos’ lawyers called a “modest delay” in reporting to prison.
“He has failed to demonstrate that the D.C. Circuit is likely to conclude that the appointment of the Special Counsel was unlawful — and, indeed, he has failed even to show that the appeal raises a ‘close question that ‘very well could be decided’ against the Special Counsel,” Moss wrote.
Oral arguments on that case were heard Nov. 8.
Papadopopoulos is represented by a new team of lawyers who recently replaced his Chicago-based attorneys and one of them, Christopher LaVigne, said Sunday that Papadopoulos will surrender on Monday.
“The Court’s decision not to stay Mr. Papadopoulos’s incarceration is an unfortunate result in an inequitable case,” LaVigne said in an email. “At sentencing, Judge Moss himself acknowledged that he did not see ‘any reason in the record to conclude that Mr. Papadopoulos had any desire to aid Russia in any way, to do anything that was contrary to the national interest.’ Nevertheless, for practical reasons, Mr. Papadopoulos has decided not to appeal the Court’s decision or move to overturn his plea.
“Given the immense power of the Special Counsel’s Office and the costs to Mr. Papadopoulos of continuing to fight, he will serve his sentence tomorrow, and hopes to move on with his life.”
In recent weeks, Papadopoulos has said on Twitter he regretted his plea.
Papadopoulous is also pushing a conspiracy theory about the Australian diplomat whose tip about Papadopoulos talking about “dirt” the Russians had on Hillary Clinton helped launch the Mueller investigation.
Meanwhile, his wife, Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, has been pressing President Donald Trump on Twitter for a pardon for her husband and trying to raise money on a GoFundMe account.
The motion to postpone Papadopoulos’ 14-day sentence has thrust George and Simona Papadopoulos once again into the news, which may benefit their drive for a presidential pardon.
On Nov. 13, Papadopoulos’ Chicago lawyers, Thomas Breen and Robert Stanley, asked Moss for permission to withdraw from the case, which was granted.
In an interview Friday with the Chicago Sun-Times, Breen explained why he withdrew.
“We felt it best to withdraw from the case based on George’s public statements that he gave contrary to the facts in the case. We know that George and his wife are interested in a pardon, but we could not in good conscience support their method of attempting to get a pardon,” Breen said.
Papadopoulos is to serve his 14 days at a federal facility in Oxford, Wisconsin, a medium-security prison with a minimum security camp where first time, non- violent offenders like Papadopoulos are usually assigned.