U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler agreed that Nucera should remain free while seeking medical treatment for a number of health problems, including a bout with COVID-19. The judge also cited the rising number of cases from the highly contagious omicron variant, especially in Boyd County, Kentucky, where Nucera was to report to prison Jan. 19.
Kugler delayed Nucera’s surrender to April 30 but told defense attorney Rocco Cipparone during a brief conference call that he would not be amenable to further delays. Nucera, 64, has a history of blood clots and is undergoing treatment, according to court records.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Lorber said she was sympathetic to Nucera’s upcoming medical appointments. She objected to the delay, though, saying Nucera should “not be able to put off his surrender indefinitely.”
“There is an interest in justice involved,” Kugler agreed. “He will serve his sentence, absent a reversal.”
In an 11-page letter to Kugler dated Jan. 7, Cipparone asked for “a compassionate release” to allow Nucera, who was charged with a number of crimes after a 2016 incident involving a Black suspect at a Bordentown hotel, to remain free and surrender in three months.
Federal prosecutors have dropped hate-crime assault charges against Frank Nucera Jr., a form…
In his motion, Cipparone said “incarceration would endanger (Nucera’s) health and potentially his life.” He said the request was “modest, precautionary and well-warranted.” He said Nucera could better minimize his risk by staying home and limiting his contact with others.
During the conference call, Lorber said she was not convinced that Nucera, who is fully vaccinated with a booster, would be safer from potential exposure to coronavirus on the outside.
Kugler sentenced Nucera in May, after a one-month postponement for other medical issues, for lying to the FBI. While defendants typically are given 30 days to surrender, the judge delayed his reporting to jail while other charges in his case were pending. Since then, two trials ended with deadlocked juries, and prosecutors have dropped those civil rights charges against Nucera. Nucera has appealed his conviction for lying.
Prosecutors said Nucera lied when he told the FBI he did not strike a handcuffed Black teenage suspect. Authorities said Nucera had a history of making derogatory remarks about Black people, saying he would unleash police dogs on spectators at high school football games and join a firing squad to mow them down. During his last trial, Lorber played a profanity-laced excerpt for the jury from one of 81 secret recordings made by fellow officers in which Nucera could be heard comparing Black people to ISIS.
According to Cipparone, Nucera has longstanding health ailments and is undergoing treatment from a hematologist and a cardiologist. Delaying his surrender until April allows adequate time for testing and treatment, although his hematologist has recommended that Nucera not be incarcerated during the pandemic, he said.