BOSTON (WPRI) – A Warwick man who pleaded guilty in a plot to behead a conservative blogger has been granted an early release from prison.
Nicholas Rovinski, 29, was serving a 15-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to two terror conspiracy charges following his arrest in 2015.
In a decision Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Young in Boston ruled, “after careful consideration, the court concludes that there exist extraordinary and compelling circumstances that warrant granting this motion for compassionate release.”
“Accordingly, Mr. Rovinski’s sentence is revised to time served and the conditions of his supervised release are modified to provide that he shall spend the next ten years of supervised release in home confinement,” Young wrote. “The first six months of which shall be in strict home confinement.”
Young added after that six months, Rovinski could request a modification of his home confinement.
Rovinski, who his attorneys say suffers from cerebral palsy, hypertension, and depression, had asked the courts for a compassionate release from prison, arguing he is at higher risk for serious illness from the coronavirus.
Last month, Young asked both sides to come up with ideas for an alternative form of punishment. On Monday, prosecutors again rejected any call for Rovinski to serve anything other than prison time.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in an email Rovinski’s “medical issues” do not justify releasing him to home confinement “after serving a mere third of his sentence – someone who willfully conspired to kill people for ISIS.”
“Rovinski pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS by killing U.S. citizens, and conspiring to commit terrorist acts transcending national boundaries. These are serious crimes and, even after cooperating with the government, he received 15 years in prison,” Lelling said. “We disagree with the Court’s decision to now nullify that sentence – after only five years – based on COVID concerns.”
In response to the decision, Lelling’s office requested a stay on the court’s order for 30 days so the government can consider an appeal of the ruling. The motion also said the Federal Bureau of Prisons requires a 14-day quarantine prior to release.
Rovinski’s attorneys did not return a request for comment.
In court filings last month, prosecutors opposed Rovinski’s request to be release to his mother’s Warwick home under electronic monitoring, writing, “he may have more serious complications because he suffers from cerebral palsy, but the defendant has not presented extraordinary and compelling reasons warranting this Court to reduce his sentence to time served.”
“Granting the defendant’s motion would result in the defendant receiving a sentence of barely five years for two terrorism convictions that carried a sentencing guideline range of life,” they wrote.
Rovinski, along with co-defendant David Wright and Wright’s uncle Usaamah Rahim, plotted to behead conservative blogger Pamela Geller back in 2015, after ISIS issued a decree urging members to kill her over a cartoon contest of the Prophet Muhammad. The plot was never carried out.
Rovinski is currently serving his sentence at a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., which the Federal Bureau of Prisons website reports had more than 90 inmates and 61 staff members test positive for COVID-19. There has been one inmate death at the facility as a result of the virus, according to the site.