A month into his sentence, Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel remains in federal prison; status of home confinement request still unclear

photo by: Nick Krug

Thomas S. Fritzel leaves the Frank Carlson Federal Courthouse in Topeka, Kan. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.

A month into his prison sentence for four felonies, Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel remains in federal prison despite his request for home confinement.

However, it remains unclear whether his request to serve his sentence at his Lawrence home is still under review or has been denied. Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Justin Long said in an email to the Journal-World that the BOP does not speak to a specific inmate’s designation. Fritzel requested home confinement due to concerns that he would be vulnerable to the coronavirus while in prison.

Generally speaking, Long said that given the surge in positive cases at certain prison facilities and in response to directives from the U.S. attorney general, the BOP has been reviewing all inmates who have COVID-19 risk factors, as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to determine which inmates are suitable for home confinement.

The CDC identifies several risk factors for hospitalization with COVID-19 infection, including obesity, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension and asthma, and states that the risk generally increases with age. Having three or more of those conditions increases one’s risk of hospitalization by five times. Guidance from the office of the attorney general states that the BOP medical director will use the CDC guidance to make an assessment based on an inmate’s risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness, risks of COVID-19 at the inmate’s prison facility, as well as the risks of COVID-19 at the inmate’s requested location for home confinement.

In the home confinement request, previous court motions and a letter from Fritzel’s doctor state that Fritzel has allergies and moderate to severe asthma and is required to take medication daily, including steroids that can lead to an immunocompromised state. The request also notes that Fritzel is 54.

Fritzel was convicted of the felonies in two federal cases. Fritzel was found guilty of three felony counts related to the illegal disposal of asbestos at one of his construction projects, and, in a separate case, pleaded guilty to a felony count of criminal conspiracy related to the collection of fraudulent tax refunds from his development of The Oread hotel.

Long said Fritzel reported to serve his sentence on Aug. 25, and the BOP inmate database shows Fritzel’s release date as July 1, 2021, or after about 10 months. Fritzel received a one-year sentence for his four felonies, but Long said the release date is less than that because it assumes credit for good conduct that he may earn.

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