Trump’s lawyer facing a jail term
FEDERAL prosecutors in Manhattan have asked a judge to sentence Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, to a “substantial” jail term for paying an adult film star hush money on Mr Trump’s behalf and evading taxes.
Cohen, who has been cooperating with US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between Russia and Mr Trump’s election campaign in 2016, pleaded guilty to the charges in August.
He pleaded guilty last week to a separate charge that he lied to Congress about discussions over the construction of a proposed Trump Organisation skyscraper in Moscow.
In a separate filing yesterday, Mr Mueller’s office said Cohen should serve any sentence imposed for that crime concurrently with the sentence imposed for the New York charges, saying he had gone to “significant lengths to assist the Special Counsel’s investigation”.
The New York prosecutors said in their filing that Cohen should receive some credit for his co-operation with Mr Mueller, but noted he had not entered into a co-operation agreement with their office.
They said his sentence should reflect a “modest” reduction from the roughly four to five years they said federal guidelines would suggest.
Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced next week by US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on all of the charges to which he pleaded guilty. His lawyers have asked that he receive no jail time, saying he has co-operated extensively with Mr Mueller and New York prosecutors.
His lawyer, Lanny Davis, yesterday declined to comment on federal prosecutors’ recommendation that he serve a significant prison term.
Mr Trump, who has called Mr Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt” and repeatedly denied wrongdoing, said earlier this week that Cohen had lied about his organisation’s business dealings in Russia to get reduced jail time. A MELBOURNE artist who barely survived a horrific motorbike crash that put him into a coma for two weeks is about to complete the final step in his recovery.
Diego Mercado was riding with friends near Warburton in November 2014, when he lost control while turning and collided with a car.
His memory of the crash is hazy but the 32-year-old said he still remembered the lead-up to the crash.
“I remember flashes of riding, the road, cars coming past,” he said. “The next thing I know, my mum was holding my hand in hospital, leaning over my bed, telling me to go back to sleep.”
That moment came two weeks after the crash. Mr Mercado had just woken from a two-week coma in the ICU of The Alfred hospital and his mother had flown in from Colombia to be by his side.
He had suffered an acquired brain injury, facial fractures, a fractured cervical spine and — devastatingly — a complete detachment of his brachial plexus on his right side.
This meant he had lost all use of his right arm along with his sense of smell.
He would stay in hospital for seven months after waking.
“My working career was over, but more pressingly, I was fighting to stay alive,” he said. “I had to very slowly learn to speak, eat, walk and talk again. I was just a body with metal, tubes and wires coming in and out — I needed help with everything.”
The extensive injuries forced the aspiring artist to become left handed and after lengthy stints of rehab, he is now about to open a unique exhibition.
His canvas is a Thornbury home, with his work spread around the property.
Mr Mercado said he met the house’s owner while finishing rehab in hospital.
“During my time there, I met Matthew, who worked as a nurse,” he said. “After I was discharged, we kept in touch because he had also had a motorcycle accident and we had stories to share.”
Mr Mercado said it was a call from Matthew one day that opened a new door for him.
“Matthew and his wife Zoe got in contact with me about their house that they were demolishing and rebuilding,” he said. “He asked me if I wanted to play around and paint it while it was getting ready for demolition.”
After taking up the option, Mercado spent 10 months planning and painting 12 artworks around the house.
The exhibition, at 23 Alston St, Thornbury, is open from 9am every day. Entry is free.
The unique designs are all standalone works, representing steps over the course of his recovery.
“I’m just a man rebuilding himself in a house that is about to be demolished,” he said. [email protected]
Diego Mercado and his artworks. Pictures: ANDREW TAUBER