© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng, accused of bribing former President of the United States General Assembly, John Ashe, leaves the US District Court of Manhattan in New York
From Jonathan stamp
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Wednesday ordered billionaire Macau real estate developer Ng Lap Seng's early release from prison and dismissed prosecutors' argument that Ng received a COVID-19 vaccine, which is the foundation negated for his liberation.
72-year-old Ng has served 34 months of his four-year term after he was convicted in 2017 for bribing two United Nations ambassadors, including former General Assembly President John Ashe, to gain support for a multi-billion dollar conference center that he wanted to build in Macau.
Manhattan District Judge Vernon Broderick ordered NG's "compassionate release" Monday, citing NG's deteriorating health and saying he was safer in Macau than a Pennsylvania prison with hundreds of COVID-19 cases.
The prosecutor asked the judge to reconsider and said that Ng would be received Moderna (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc & # 39; s COVID-19 vaccine, the second dose of which is expected by March 26th. The judge, who did not know that Ng would be vaccinated, denied the request.
"There's a level of humanity I've chosen," Broderick said at a hearing.
Prosecutors argued that the vaccination "significantly diminished" NG's argument for early freedom.
"Mr. Ng is not a threat to himself or others as he is fully vaccinated," argued US assistant attorney Daniel Richenthal before Broderick ruled. "That changes things."
A spokesman for US attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.
Ng is expected to be fully vaccinated and placed in the care of immigration officials before flying home. He was eligible for release on December 23rd.
Broderick "understood the human toll that changing his mind would have imposed on Mr. Ng by first finding out you were going home and then learning that the court had changed his mind," Ng's attorney Benjamin Brafman said in an E -Mail. "He would not allow this additional trauma."
The case is US v Ng, US District Court, South District of New York, No. 15-cr-00706.
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