Trump’s lawyer fac­ing a jail term

Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page - RYAN TENNISON

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

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