During his monthlong trial, film producer Harvey Weinstein was surrounded by an expansive, and expensive, entourage of advisers and assistants.
He had four lawyers, a jury selection expert, a crisis manager and a spokesman. There was even an employee who made sure his court-ordered ankle monitor was functioning correctly.
But about three weeks ago, well before a jury found Weinstein guilty of two felony sex crimes, another paid professional was brought into his camp: a “prison consultant” named Craig Rothfeld.
Rothfeld’s private firm, Inside Outside Ltd., was created to help new inmates understand the details of what he calls “the journey”— the confusing and often frightening passage from living an ordinary life to living behind bars.
Minutes after Weinstein was convicted, the judge in his case, Justice James M. Burke, revoked his bail and ordered him to be sent at once to jail.
But despite the ruling, Weinstein has so far been housed in a prison ward at the Bellevue Hospital Center, where he has been receiving treatment for chest pains, diabetes and high blood pressure, his spokesman, Juda Engelmayer, said.
In the last few weeks, Rothfeld has worked with Weinstein’s lawyers to make sure that city jail officials give the producer medical attention while he is being detained before his sentencing, now set for March 11.
Over the weekend, photographs emerged online of Weinstein sitting in what seemed to be a common room at Bellevue, watching television in an armchair with a wheelchair parked beside him. The images prompted questions about whether the wealthy and well-connected mogul was getting special treatment.
“Different pokes for different folks,” writer Denis Hamill said on Twitter.
City correction officials have repeatedly declined to discuss why Weinstein is being held at the hospital rather than in a cell at Rikers Island.
“Any suggestion that Mr. Weinstein is receiving special treatment is false,” said Peter Thorne, a spokesman for the Department of Correction. “He has access to the same services as anyone else at his location, no more, no less.”
Rothfeld agreed with the department.
“Everyone thinks he has a sweetheart deal, but he doesn’t,” he said of Weinstein. “He’s in the hospital, but he’s still in a prison cell — a regular cell, with a toilet open for the world to see.”
Rothfeld said that quite a bit of work went into getting Weinstein sent to Bellevue. To persuade Burke to recommend the hospital, he and Weinstein’s lawyers submitted copies of his medical prescriptions and a notarized letter from a doctor certifying his physical disability.
It helped Weinstein’s argument, he said, that over the summer the celebrity investor Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in the Manhattan federal jail cell where he was awaiting prosecution on sex-trafficking charges. Because of Epstein’s death, there were now “major security issues surrounding high-profile people,” Rothfeld said.
It is likely that Epstein’s suicide is being taken into account by jail officials in their decision to keep Weinstein at Bellevue rather than transferring him to Rikers, according to one former jail official and one city official, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal Department of Correction practices.
The city official said that keeping Weinstein at Bellevue was “extremely unusual.” Rikers inmates are normally not housed at the hospital for an extended period unless they have serious medical problems.
“They don’t know what to do with him, understandably,” the city official said. “Post-Epstein, I’m sure there is more concern.”
Weinstein could spend as many as 29 years in prison, and after he is sentenced he will no doubt face conditions far less pleasant than those he has at Bellevue.
Rothfeld said he has met with Weinstein one on one to prepare him for the fast-approaching moment when he will be sent to prison. Their conversations, he said, have focused on getting the producer ready for having his head shaved and wearing handcuffs.
“When you go away, you’re largely entering the Bermuda Triangle,” Rothfeld said in an interview this week. “There’s little information available, and at the lowest point in someone’s life they usually have no idea of what’s in front of them.”
Like all city inmates convicted of violent felonies, Weinstein will first be sent to a reception area at the Downstate Correctional Facility — about 75 miles north of the city, in Fishkill — to await his assignment to an upstate prison, where he will start to serve his term.
Rothfeld said he was working with Weinstein’s lawyers on a sentencing memo designed to persuade Burke to recommend sending the producer to a prison with a medical or protective-custody unit, so that he can be housed apart from the general population. Weinstein also wants to be sent to a prison that is close to New York City or to one with a significant Jewish population, Rothfeld said.
Rothfeld, 49, founded Inside Outside in 2017, after he served two years in prison. In 2015, he pleaded guilty in Manhattan to charges of defrauding investors in a securities company he owned out of $11 million.
“As ashamed and remorseful as I am for what I did,” he said, “I’m just as proud for taking responsibility and making something out of it.”
Prison consulting is a relatively rare line of work whose practitioners generally cater to the wealthy. Companies including the Justice Advocacy Group in Virginia and Jail Time Consulting in Florida help new inmates to navigate the federal and, on occasion, the state penal systems.
Rothfeld declined to discuss his rates in detail, but said the cost of hiring him was more than what the average accountant charges to prepare a yearly tax return, but less than the retainer a white-shoe lawyer charges. He said that on occasion he has waived his fees for people who cannot afford them.
In the past two years, he said, he has had about 20 clients, though none has been as famous as Weinstein is. As part of his contract, Rothfeld said, he has counseled not only the producer, but members of his family, too, advising them on how to visit Weinstein once he enters prison, how to send him packages and how to contact him by phone.
“You’re a therapist, a rabbi, a priest, a marriage counselor and a big brother,” Rothfeld said. “All the questions people have, if you can answer them correctly. It sheds a little light on the ultimate mystery: the prison system.”