Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) will be released from his minimum security prison later this month to finish his sentence at another facility.
Ney’s attorney confirmed Monday afternoon that the former Congressman is leaving his minimum security facility in Morgantown, W.Va., and will likely continue to serve his sentence at a place with less stringent security.
“I gather he’s done well there and has gone through the substance abuse program and he’s doing OK,” said Ney’s attorney, Bill Lawler.
Lawler said Ney’s likely next step is a halfway house near his Ohio home; however, he noted that the Federal Bureau of Prisons will make the final call on where Ney can finish his sentence.
Ney was sentenced to 30 months in prison for corruption charges and cited alcohol dependency as a cause for his downfall. The disgraced former Ohio Congressman checked into an alcohol rehabilitation facility almost immediately after signing his guilty plea with the Department of Justice in September 2006.
Ney entered the Morgantown facility on March 1, 2007, where he has been participating in the BOP’s substance abuse program. His publically scheduled release date is set for Aug. 16, 2008.
Federal Correctional Institute Morgantown spokeswoman Veronica Fernandez said she could not confirm that Ney is leaving the prison later this month because it is not public information. However, Fernandez said substance abuse program participants are eligible for taking up to one year off their sentences if they complete the BOP’s program.
The first part of the substance abuse program requires participants to take four hours of substance abuse classes and four hours of either school or prison work for five days each week, according to Fernandez.
Part of the BOP’s substance abuse program is a transition from an intensive residential treatment phase to an “aftercare” program, Fernandez said. The aftercare portion of the program can can be spent either in a halfway house or in an incarceration facility like the one in which Ney currently resides.
In an aftercare facility such as a halfway house, Fernandez said, a participant is expected to attend group counseling, find a job and reintegrate him- or herself into the community.
Sources close to Ney described this as a very positive move for the former 18th district Congressman.
“I think he has taken and is taking his rehabilitation very seriously,” Lawler said. “I think he’s in good shape.”
Lawler said Ney has improved a great deal in the facility’s rehabilitation program and has lost a lot of weight. He is tutoring other inmates in English.
“You never want it to happen, but because he has been so serious about his rehabilitation, he has made the best of it,” Lawler added.
The scandal surrounding Ney in 2006 and his hasty retirement was the catalyst for putting his seat — typically a GOP stronghold — into Democratic hands. Freshman Rep. Zack Space (D) won the seat over state Sen. Joy Padgett (R), 62 percent to 38 percent in 2006.
Four Republicans have stepped up to challenge Space this cycle; however, local political observers do not consider any of them to be top-tier recruits and the state filing deadline has passed.
The Ohio Democratic Party on Monday released a statement mockingly advertising Ney’s availability to campaign with Buckeye State Republicans.
“With John McCain promising voters nothing short of a third term for George Bush, Bob Ney will do an excellent job reminding Ohioans of exactly what the first two terms of the Bush presidency have meant for our state,” said Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Alex Goepfert.
A spokesman for Ohio Republican Party would not comment on Ney’s pending release.