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Imprisoned for conspiring to slip their children into USC as bogus water polo stars, a Napa Valley vintner and a Los Angeles water systems executive asked a judge last week to release them from custody early, citing the specter of the novel coronavirus.

Agustin Huneeus Jr., whose family owns several wineries in Napa, was discharged on March 17, two weeks before his five-month term was up, after U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani found that “extraordinary and compelling reasons” justified the early release.

Incarcerated in Lompoc, Devin Sloane, whose four-month prison term will end April 1, asked Talwani for similar relief and was denied. Even as she turned down the request, Talwani suggested that the process prisoners must follow to seek early release is ill-equipped to address a fast-moving crisis forced on the courts and prison system by the coronavirus outbreak.

Sloane, she wrote, failed to demonstrate he had appealed to the warden at Lompoc and exhausted all administrative means of securing an early release before appealing to the court. Nor had he shown a “life-threatening condition” that would allow him to bypass those avenues and go directly to the court, she wrote.

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