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Federal judge denies former Dallas councilman's prison release request

Former Dallas mayor pro tem Dwaine Caraway claimed his health leaves him at high-risk to contracting the coronavirus while in prison.

A federal judge has denied a prison release request from former Dallas mayor pro tem Dwaine Caraway, who claimed his health makes him a high-risk prisoner.

Caraway began his federal prison sentence last year for two bribery-related charges – conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and tax evasion.

His attorney submitted a motion July 21 for Caraway to be moved to home confinement. According to the motion, Caraway has sleep apnea, hypertension and reflux disorder, among other medical conditions. 

"Due to his age and current health conditions, he is in a vulnerable group for susceptibility to the coronavirus and serious medical complications from that disease," the motion says. 

Federal Judge Barbara Lynn denied the request, citing legal code that does not allow judges to modify the place of incarceration and saying that Caraway did not provide support that shows "extraordinary and compelling circumstances."

RELATED: Ex-Dallas Councilman Dwaine Caraway sentenced to 4 years, 8 months in prison for bribery

Caraway, 68, pleaded guilty to his actions that led to the bankruptcy of the Dallas County Schools bus agency.

He admitted to pocketing $450,000 between 2011 and 2017. The money, consisting mostly of checks Caraway cashed at pawn shops and liquor stores, came from Bob Leonard Jr., a New Orleans businessman.

In addition to receiving a sentence of four years and eight months in prison, Caraway was ordered to pay $482,000 in restitution. 

Caraway is incarcerated at the Big Spring Federal Correctional Facility near Midland. Bureau of Prisons data show there are zero coronavirus cases among inmates there and six cases among staff. 

RELATED: 'I'm going to die': What it's like inside a federal prison where 70% have coronavirus

The motion for Caraway to be moved to home confinement said other federal judges across the country have granted the release of inmates with high-risk medical conditions from minimum security facilities.

The court document says Caraway has been a "model inmate" and is an ideal candidate for home imprisonment. The motion says it's difficult to have proper physical distancing inside prisons, which have seen outbreaks of the coronavirus across the country. 

"Mr. Caraway is a man in his late 60s who does not pose a threat to the community upon release," the motion says, while pointing out that the former Dallas council member was convicted of nonviolent offenses.