Coronavirus: Prosecutors argue against ex-NFL wideout Mark Ingram's prison release request

Federal prosecutors filed a brief on Monday seeking to keep former New York Giants wideout Mark Ingram in a Michigan prison in the coming months, despite an assertion by Ingram’s lawyer that the 10-year NFL player is suffering from dementia and is a high risk to contract COVID-19.

Ingram — who is the father of the Baltimore Ravens running back and former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram Jr. — had filed a motion for a modified judgment and a release into home confinement late last month, citing risks making him susceptible to the coronavirus. Federal prosecutors reacted to that request with a terse 23-page argument that Ingram was using a claim of “alleged dementia” to “line jump” ahead of other needy inmates to evade the remainder of his sentence.

“Ingram might be granted home confinement under the new legislation and Attorney General’s directive. Then again, he might not,” federal prosecutors wrote in a response to Ingram’s request, which was first reported by the Detroit News.

“But either way, he should not be permitted to push his way in the queue past other inmates who are less dangerous and more vulnerable than he is. At age 54, Ingram is not elderly and therefore in the high risk group. Ingram’s alleged dementia does not increase his susceptibility to COVID-19. And even assuming Ingram’s asthma increases his risk, there are undoubtedly other inmates whose medical conditions are more dire and who are more at risk from COVID-19 — and whose evaluation and potential release should take priority over Ingram’s. Ingram should not be permitted to cut in front of those other, more vulnerable inmates.”

Mark Ingram, a member of the New York Giants’ 1990 Super Bowl team, is asking federal prosecutors to be released from prison into home confinement amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Tim de Frisco/Allsport)
Mark Ingram, a member of the New York Giants’ 1990 Super Bowl team, is asking federal prosecutors to be released from prison into home confinement amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Tim de Frisco/Allsport)

Ingram is part of a massive chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) lawsuit against the NFL. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can be diagnosed only post-mortem.

A member of the Giants’ 1990 season Super Bowl team, Ingram has 11 months remaining on a 21-month term at a federal prison in Milan, Michigan. Ingram was sentenced in September after being found guilty of multiple parole violations, which were related to a previous nine-year sentence for money laundering, bank fraud and jumping bail. His story has been well-chronicled over the past decade, from his fall after a lengthy NFL career to the rise of his son Mark Ingram Jr. as a Heisman Trophy winner and first-round NFL draft pick out of the University of Alabama.

Ingram made his request for an early release into home confinement on March 30, following a directive from U.S. Attorney William Barr which ordered prisons struck by coronavirus infections to expedite the release of select at-risk prisoners whose health left them exposed to the most severe effects of COVID-19.

Ingram’s lawyer David Jones argued his client’s onset of dementia, asthma and hypertension all made him a candidate for early release. In his petition to a federal court, Jones cited “extraordinary and compelling reasons” to modify Ingram’s sentence.

Six months ago, Ingram cited the effects of dementia when requesting that the Federal Bureau of Prisons file a motion on his behalf to alter the terms of his sentencing and allow him to finish out his sentence in home confinement. The bureau of prisons never responded, prompting Jones to file his motion in the wake of the coronavirus. Ingram’s lawyers reached out to federal prosecutors in a failed bid to appeal for Ingram’s relief.

The reason why became abundantly clear in a response filing by the U.S. Attorney’s office on Monday, which effectively suggested that Ingram was attempting to manipulate the system and would pose a criminal risk if released. Federal prosecutors went as far as detailing Ingram’s legal record in an almost scathing tone, all the way back to his time at Michigan State in 1985.

“Mark Ingram is a retired professional football player who has been engaged in criminal activity since at least 1985, when he vandalized and robbed a dormitory room in East Lansing,” the filing read. “Following his playing career, his crimes escalated to serious federal violations, to include laundering drug proceeds and complex, multi-state fraud. ... [H]is current prison sentence stems from his second failure on supervised release. So it is questionable whether Ingram would cease engaging in serious criminal conduct.

“Given Ingram’s record, it is also highly questionable that he would abide by the terms of home confinement — much less adhere to the CDC’s social-distancing protocols and the governor’s stay-at-home order. Time and again, Ingram has been unwilling to follow even far more basic societal norms, such as ‘don’t deal drugs’ and ‘don’t commit fraud.’ Why would anyone think that he would follow social-distancing protocols and stay-at-home orders? Because Ingram would be unlikely to take those directives seriously, he would also be far more likely than other members of the public to contract COVID-19 — perhaps even more likely than he would be in prison — and would be more likely to spread it to other people.”

There is currently no set date for the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan to make a ruling on Ingram’s request.

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