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How Much Prison Time Did Michael Cohen Get?

Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and fixer for Donald Trump, was sentenced in December 2018 to 3 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to several crimes. Cohen admitted to campaign finance violations, tax evasion, bank fraud, and lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings in Russia.

His conviction and sentence marked a dramatic downfall for a man who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump. But how much actual prison time did Michael Cohen ultimately serve?

Conviction and Sentencing

In August 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to eight criminal counts:

  • Five counts of tax evasion from 2012-2016
  • One count of making false statements to a financial institution in connection with a credit decision
  • One count of willful cause of unlawful corporate contribution from June 2016 to October 2016
  • One count of making an excessive campaign contribution on October 27, 2016

The unlawful campaign contribution charge related to Cohen facilitating hush money payments to silence two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed to have had affairs with Donald Trump.

In December 2018, Cohen was sentenced to 3 years (36 months) in prison and ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution and forfeit $500,000, as well as fines and other conditions. At the sentencing hearing, the judge said Cohen pled guilty to a “veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct” and his crimes were “a significant betrayal of the public trust.”

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Breakdown of Prison Sentence

The judge laid out Cohen’s 36-month prison sentence as follows:

  • 24 months for tax evasion (five counts of tax evasion to be served concurrently)
  • 2 months for false statements to a financial institution
  • 2 months for excessive campaign contribution
  • 2 months for false statements to Congress (to be served concurrently with the first 36 months)

So in total, Cohen was sentenced to 3 years (36 months) in federal prison. However, he did not end up serving the full three years behind bars.

Time Served and Release

Michael Cohen surrendered himself on May 6, 2019 to begin serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, NY.

In April 2020, Cohen was released early from prison due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreaks in the federal prison system. He had served around one year of his three year sentence.

Cohen was briefly imprisoned again in July 2020 after refusing home confinement conditions, but was released again on furlough in late July.

So ultimately, out of his original 36-month sentence, Michael Cohen served around 12 months in federal prison.

Details of Convictions and Sentences

Here is a table summarizing the specific crimes Cohen was convicted of, the corresponding prison time he received for each, and details on the offenses:

CrimePrison TimeDetails
Tax Evasion (5 counts)24 monthsFailed to report $4.1 million in income from 2012-2016, avoiding taxes through cash payments and other means
False Statements to a Financial Institution2 monthsUnderstated debt and stated assets were higher than reality in application for $500,000 home equity line of credit
Excessive Campaign Contribution2 monthsFacilitated $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to Karen McDougal to prevent damage to Trump’s election chances
False Statements to Congress2 monthsLied to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia, falsely claiming talks ended in early 2016 when actually continued into June 2016

Reaction and Cohen’s Conviction Quotes

Cohen expressed regret and took responsibility for his crimes following his sentencing. Here are some key quotes from Cohen on his conviction:

“I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to: The personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America.”

“Recently the President tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired.”

“Today is one of the most meaningful days of my life. The irony is today is the day I am getting my freedom back as you sit at the bench and you contemplate my fate.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What crimes was Michael Cohen convicted of?

Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 counts: 5 tax evasion, 2 campaign finance violations, 1 false statement to bank.

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How long was Cohen’s prison sentence?

Cohen was originally sentenced to 36 months (3 years) in federal prison.

How much time did Cohen actually serve in prison?

Cohen served around 12 months before being released early.

Where was Cohen imprisoned?

Cohen was incarcerated at FCI Otisville in New York.

Why was Cohen released early from prison?

Cohen was released to home confinement in April 2020 over concerns of COVID-19 spread in prisons.


Michael Cohen, once a fiercely loyal ally of Donald Trump, had a dramatic fall from grace when he was convicted of multiple crimes including tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress. Cohen was originally sentenced to serve 36 months in federal prison but only ended up serving around 12 months before being released early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While he was sentenced for 3 years behind bars, Cohen’s actual time incarcerated totaled just one year. His conviction marked a stunning turn against his former boss and led to great personal and legal consequences for Cohen.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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