“I mean, it’s horrible. There is no sugarcoating it.”
Craig Rothfeld has had blunt and candid conversations with Harvey Weinstein. The recently hired private "prison consultant," a veteran of the state’s correctional system, may now be the most significant point person in the Hollywood producer’s camp as he prepares for a new life behind bars.
Rothfeld, who spent time in Rikers and a bid upstate for white collar crimes, sat down for an exclusive interview with News 4 New York Investigative Reporter Sarah Wallace.
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“Often, I tell people you’re going into a byzantine black hole,” he said.
In the wake of Weinstein’s conviction on rape and sex assault charges, his defense team brought Rothfeld on board. He is preparing his client for a long prison sentence in a maximum security prison.
“I’m talking to him about the first 90 days," he said. He added, “They’re very dark. They’re very uncomfortable because you’re on buses in handcuffs and leg shackles. You can’t get packages. It’s very scary. What it will be like for him is you’re powerless.”
And, Rothfeld acknowledges, a possible target, especially since Weinstein is now a convicted sex offender.
“That’s something the Department of Correction is going to have to weigh. It’s not uncommon for people like Mr. Weinstein to be put in protective custody,” Rothfeld said.
Weinstein could also be placed in general population or in a regional medical unit. There are four in New York State which are essentially prison cells in a facility with an adjacent medical unit. The 67-year-old has multiple health issues.
Rothfeld said he tells his client to focus on the immediate goalpost. “For him, that’s sentencing on March 11. Then it’s his appeal. And no matter what you think about Mr. Weinstein, he has a family. I’m a conduit for families. They want to know, 'How is he going to make phone calls? How often can he call? When can he start to receive visitors?'”
Rothfeld adds he’s warned Weinstein that it’s the little issues that can often set off other inmates. “The three biggest things that cause a problem for you in prison are phones, the television and gambling," he said. Rothfeld recommends clients never fight over phone time or the remote control, and to never gamble behind bars.
On March 11, Weinstein’s team plans to ask Justice James Burke for the least amount of prison time possible under sentencing guidelines, which would be five years. The Manhattan District Attorney said it will recommend a substantial sentence. The maximum for the two felony sex crimes is 29 years.