Not only was former City Councilmember Dan Halloran released from prison early because of COVID-19 concerns, but he was released at a time of major social upheaval.
“It’s surreal,” he said. “I don’t understand exactly where we wound up, where we are between the pandemic lockdown and the collateral stuff ... It’s a shame to see our country ripping itself apart.”
Halloran was convicted in 2014 on two counts each of bribery and wire fraud, and a single count of conspiracy. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison the following year, but was released early as the Bureau of Prisons sought to decrease inmate populations in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Halloran’s clean record made him a good candidate for early release, he said.
“I completed a percentage of my sentence that put me at 18 months of release. I had no incidents, no disciplinary issues, low risk factor,” he said, noting that he could have been let out as early as six months from his release date even if the pandemic didn’t pose a factor.
With his newfound freedom, Halloran said he doesn’t plan “on being in the public eye in a significant way anytime.”
“I was a [scuba] instructor long before and I always did it on the side as a hobby,” he said, stating that he’s already made a return to classes. Halloran also said he’ll be going back to graduate school to do some postdoctoral work on cultural site conservation, underwater recreation and archeological research — he earned a B.A. in history and anthropology from the City University of New York before achieving his juris doctor from St. John’s University Law School.
He was unable to discuss his time in prison because he is appealing his convictions to the Second Circuit, but said he’s relieved to be back home, though uneasy to find the world in such an unusual situation.
“I feel sad that we find ourselves where we find ourselves. I would never in a million years have guessed we would be where we are,” he said, adding that he credits elected officials and frontline workers for their dedications and handle on the situation.
Halloran has voiced those concerns over TikTok, a platform he recently joined.
“Five years I go away — the world’s normal. I come back — it’s gone to s--t. I’m not talking about any one particular thing, but I’m talking about the COVID virus, Black Lives Matter, but nobody makes any sense, I don’t get it. I left, the people were fighting, there were partisan issues, but everybody made sense. Now, nobody makes sense. I don’t know what to do about that. Maybe you do,” Halloran said in his first post, captioned, “So here’s the first time out of the gate on this- hopefully it will make sense sooner or later.”
In the meantime, Halloran is sorting through years of mail, straightening out his accounts and renewing certificates, such as his driver’s license, first aid and teaching.