SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge Monday rejected Rick Koerber’s claim that he should be released from prison because he’s vulnerable to COVID-19.
U.S. District Judge Frederic Block said Koerber did not present extraordinary and compelling reasons for release.
Koerber, a Utah real estate investor, ran a Ponzi scheme that federal authorities say caused more than $45 million in losses. A jury convicted him of 15 counts of wire fraud, fraud in the offer and sale of securities, and money laundering in September 2018.
He is incarcerated at Terminal Island, a low-security federal prison in San Pedro, California. An appeal of his conviction is pending.
Unlike an inmate cited in Koeber’s request who is 70 years old, in poor health and who had served about half of his original sentence, the 47-year-old Koerber offered no evidence of any current health issues and has served only 10 months of his 170-month sentence, according to the judge.
Koerber filed an emergency motion for compassionate release earlier this month, saying he has been hospitalized twice after catching two viruses less dangerous than COVID-19. He argued that because of the risk he would be more safely confined at his home in rural Utah.
Information about any medical conditions Koerber might have were redacted from the motion.
The Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office contended that while the coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented global health crisis, it does not warrant Koerber’s release. Prosecutors say his request is the latest in a long line of motions he has filed in an effort to avoid prison. The government also argued he remains a danger to the community.