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Senior United States District Judge Malcolm Howard in Greenville today denied a motion by an Operation Rockfish defendant which sought compassionate release due to the novel coronavirus.

Lann Clanton, referred to in court documents as the ringleader in the police corruption case, wrote Howard a letter on April 19.

In his motion to deny, the judge wrote, “This matter is before the court on defendant’s letter, which this court construes as a motion seeking release from imprisonment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Wrote Howard, “The court acknowledges the fear and anxiety being experienced by the general public, and in particular, by those confined to prison during this pandemic. However, defendant has shown no legal basis for his motion. Therefore, the motion for release is denied.”

Clanton, who was recruited by the FBI to guard shipments of fake cocaine and heroin, received a 16 ½ year sentence in June of 2017.

In his letter Clanton wrote,  “I live with approximately 200 to 250 inmates plus staff members who work in the unit. If someone were to become infected with COVID-19, it would spread quickly to everybody.”

He also said in the letter it is impossible to socially distance himself from others while incarcerated.

Clanton is currently serving his sentence at Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in New Jersey.