Two alleged crypto Ponzi scheme operators have requested that a New Jersey federal court grant their release from jail over concerns that the facility will soon host a COVID-19 outbreak.
Matthew Goettsche and Jobadiah Weeks submitted separate motions petitioning the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, New Jersey for their release on March 20 and 23, respectively.
Goettsche’s attorney, Rodney Villazor, said, “it is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’” the corrections facility hosts a coronavirus outbreak. He argues that once the virus reaches the jail, “it will be nearly impossible to stop its spread,” adding that “the risk to Mr. Goettsche’s health and safety grows with each day that he remains incarcerated” at the facility.
New Jersey jail under fire for widespread health and safety issues
According to Weeks’ representation, the county jas has “an exceptionally poor record of maintaining detainee health.”
He cited the findings of the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, who last year reported that the facility poses “significant threats to detainee health and safety.”
The inspector general identified “leaks causing mold and mildew growth ‘in every housing unit holding detainees,” and food safety issues including “’raw, spoiled, or expired’ meat, ‘raw chicken,’ ‘expired and moldy bread,’ and ‘hamburgers that were foul smelling and unrecognizable’.” Weeks’ lawyer argued:
“Given the noted risks of illness through inadequate food service and environmental safety at the Essex County Correctional Facility, a swift outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility is virtually inevitable.”
The lawyers also argued that a lock-down at the facility would make it impossible for the suspects to comply with discovery requests in their ongoing proceedings.