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Leader of scheme that caused bank collapse set for release

NORFOLK (AP) The leader of a fraud scheme that precipitated the collapse of Bank of the Commonwealth nearly a decade ago will soon be released from federal prison amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, according to court documents.

Ed Woodard, the 77-year-old former bank president, has served less than a third of a 23-year sentence he received in November 2013 for multiple bank fraud and related charges, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Woodard was granted compassionate release June 26 by U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson, who presided over the 10-week trial and sentencing.

Jackson wrote that Woodard’s age and many health problems — which include heart disease, diabetes and morbid obesity — leave him particularly vulnerable to the virus.

Before he can be released, Woodard must complete a two-week quarantine at Fort Dix, the federal prison in New Jersey where he’s been housed the past several years. Once out, he will be required to spend five years on home confinement.

In February 2019, after years of denying wrongdoing, Woodard confessed to perpetrating the fraud in the hopes of getting a new trial and possibly a shorter sentence. His strategy failed.

Last August, Woodard began asking for a compassionate release after he suffered a series of heart attacks. He later requested release due to the COVID-19 threat. The federal Bureau of Prisons denied all the petitions, noting Woodward had not served at least half of his sentence as is typically required.

Prosecutors objected to his release in a 30-page court document, arguing that while there have been numerous positive coronavirus tests at the medium security camp at Fort Dix, there haven’t been any in the low-security area where Woodard is housed. The medium security section also hasn’t had any positive cases since May 6.

Two other bank officials were found guilty in the conspiracy, including Woodard’s son, Brandon.

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