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Harvey Weinstein is back at NYC's Rikers Island jail after hospital stay

NEW YORK (AP) — One-time movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was returned to a New York City jail in what his publicist said Tuesday was the result from a published report claiming he was getting VIP treatment during his 10-day stay at a hospital.
FILE - Harvey Weinstein appears at Manhattan criminal court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, May 1, 2024 in New York. (Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — One-time movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was returned to a New York City jail in what his publicist said Tuesday was the result from a published report claiming he was getting VIP treatment during his 10-day stay at a hospital.

The publicist, Juda Engelmeyer, said Weinstein was moved late Monday from Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan to an infirmary at the city’s Rikers Island jail complex.

The move came hours after The City, a nonprofit news outlet, reported that Weinstein was housed in a private room in the hospital’s intensive care unit with a television, phone and a bathroom rather than a separate floor where inmates normally reside.

Engelmeyer disputed the account, saying Weinstein “wasn’t getting preferential or VIP treatment” and wasn't housed in what could be characterized as a hospital suite. Engelmeyer said he'd been housed on the floor for inmates where everyone has access to a room with phones and a television room.

“He’s been moved back to Rikers largely due to pressure, I believe, due to pressure because of the news about what somebody thought was VIP treatment,” he said.

Weinstein was brought to Bellevue Hospital only hours after he was transferred on April 26 from the Mohawk Correctional Facility, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Albany, to Rikers less than a day after the New York Court of Appeals vacated his conviction.

The appeals court ruled that a Manhattan trial judge permitted jurors to see and hear too much evidence not directly related to the charges he faced, and it ordered a new trial, negating his 23-year prison sentence. However, he remained jailed because he was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

While prosecutors have asked for a September retrial on charges that he forcibly performed oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006 and raped an aspiring actor in 2013, it was unclear if key trial witnesses would return for a new trial. Weinstein has disputed the allegations.

Frank Dwyer, a New York City Department of Correction spokesperson, said Weinstein was originally taken to Bellevue for medical care and was returned to the West Facility, a Rikers Island jail in Queens, when the treatment was completed.

The West Facility houses 140 specially air-controlled housing units for inmates with contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, according to a city website, though the jail has reportedly also been used for inmates that need to be isolated from the general jail population for other reasons.

Craig Rothfeld, a jail consultant working with Weinstein attorneys, responded to an email sent to a Weinstein lawyer by saying the decision to return Weinstein to Rikers was made by medical staff "who are more than qualified to make these medical decisions.”

He said there are no more updates to provide regarding Weinstein's health, and all of his health conditions continue to be closely monitored by city jail and health officials.

“We have every confidence in their decision-making ability regarding Mr. Weinstein's safety and well-being and are grateful for their continued communication,” Rothfeld said.

Engelmeyer said Weinstein had been treated at the hospital for pneumonia, a recurring issue related to his heart troubles, along with his other medical issues, including diabetes.

“He appreciates the care he was getting in Bellevue,” he said.

Engelmeyer said Weinstein was “disappointed” at his return to Rikers and was “uncomfortable” there, where the spokesperson described Weinstein's housing as “more like an infirmary.”

He said Weinstein was regularly speaking by phone with his lawyers when he was at the hospital as other inmates awaiting trial are allowed to do.

"He didn't get any treatment different from others. He wasn’t talking to his friends and buddies and having a good time,” Engelmeyer said.

Engelmeyer said Weinstein gained some “relief and hope” from the appeals ruling, but he knows he faces a long prison term from the California case and an appeal of that conviction won't be heard for another year.

“His spirits are up, but he also knows he has a long, long trip ahead of him,” Engelmeyer said. “He knows that he won't be getting out soon.

Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press