Former insurance executive Jeffrey B. Cohen filed has asked to be released from prison while his appeals are pending, but federal prosecutors responded Wednesday that Cohen’s 37-year sentence for a “massive financial fraud” makes his continued detention appropriate.
Cohen filed his motion pro se in early March and cited a section of federal law that lays out factors for the judge to consider, including his likeliness to flee and the likelihood the appeal will result in reversal or a new trial.
Cohen “is not a flight risk nor a threat to any person or to the community,” according to his motion.
U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. sentenced Cohen in December for insurance fraud and obstruction of justice, calling him “clever, persistent, confident, optimistic and ethically impaired.”
Cohen’s former Sparks-based company, Indemnity Insurance Corp. RRG, once covered “nightclubs and other risky businesses” in more than 30 states. He was indicted in 2014 for trying to deceive regulators about the financial condition of the company. Cohen represented himself during four days of trial in June before he entered a guilty plea to wire fraud, false statement to regulators, obstruction of justice and aggravated identity theft.
During a multi-day sentencing hearing in November, Cohen argued he inflated balance sheets but Indemnity was never insolvent and was always able to pay claims. Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Gruber argued Cohen built his company on lies and deceit and continued that deception in court.
Cohen appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals several rulings by District Court judges, including those made by Quarles during sentencing. Opening briefs are due April 26 in the appellate court.
In his motion for release, Cohen argues there is a lack of “substantial evidence” that he is a flight risk or threat to the community, citing a court order denying his motion for release pending sentencing which he claims made no specific findings.
“The Court seems to seize upon the term ‘deceit’ as a reason to assert that defendant is not qualified for release; the Court fails to specifically identify that this concern is related to a risk of flight or as a risk of threat to the Coimnutlity [sic],” he states.
Prosecutors argued Wednesday in their response that Cohen is a danger to the public because he “threatened an intimidated a key witness in court, and later tried to kill the Delaware Chancery Court Judge handling his civil litigation, the lawyers assisting the federal investigation of Cohen, and the then-Lieutenant Governor of Delaware.”
Prosecutors played a tape recording in court of Cohen recording himself driving through Delaware mentioning a state judge and speaking of his plans for a “recon” mission.
Cohen has said a high-powered rifle found in his possession was for an African safari trip, ammonium nitrate was purchased for a car fuel cell, and the recordings and notes he made referencing killing were creative writing exercises.
Quarles addressed these allegations at sentencing, saying he believed Cohen “probably” meant to harm certain individuals but did not assign a greater degree of certainty.
Cohen argues he has no assets, vehicle or passport and plans to stay with his parents, who would pledge assets as collateral if he were to be released. Prosecutors countered he used multiple identities and aliases in the commission of his crimes.
No hearing on Cohen’s motion has been scheduled as of Thursday afternoon.