Less than a month after former HSBC FX trader Mark Johnson failed to secure compassionate release, the date of his surrender looms closer. That is because the surrender hinges on his vaccination against COVID-19, and he has gotten the first dose of such a vaccine.
Let’s recall that, in October 2017, a jury convicted Johnson of seven counts of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy, arising from a Forex transaction that he engineered in his former role at investment bank HSBC. On April 26, 2018, this court sentenced Johnson principally to 24 months’ imprisonment, well below the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range of 87-108 months.
Johnson was remanded to custody and served two months of his sentence, first at the Metropolitan Detention Center and then at FMC Devens. On June 19, 2018, the Second Circuit granted Mr. Johnson’s motion for bail pending appeal, and on June 26, 2018, this court authorized Mr. Johnson to return to his home in a rural area of England to await the outcome of his appeal.
Mark Johnson then moved for an order granting compassionate release pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(l)(A), arguing that his underlying medical condition and the risks to his health posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the anticipated conditions of his confinement and his ongoing charitable work, constitute “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances that merit the reduction of his sentence to time served and supervised release with a condition of home confinement.
The Government opposed the motion, arguing that Johnson is not eligible for relief because he is not currently in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and, alternatively, that Johnson’s circumstances do not warrant a sentence reduction.
On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, the Court nixed Johnson’s motion. The Judge, however, agreed with the defendant that resuming his term of imprisonment at this time, prior to his receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine, poses an unjustified risk to his health. His surrender date was extended until either August 1, 2021 or three weeks after his final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, whichever occurs first.
Now, the surrender date gets closer. On February 28, 2021, Johnson’s counsel filed a Letter with the New York Eastern District Court. The letter says that, on February 25, 2021, Johnson received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The second dose would be in approximately twelve weeks.
Let’s note that Johnson’s motion for compassionate release was denied without prejudice to renew.