Harvey Weinstein has mild heart attack after sentencing

Weinstein arriving at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City in a file photo. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Harvey Weinstein, the once powerful film producer, had a mild heart attack on Wednesday (March 11), hours after a New York judge sentenced him to 23 years in state prison for sexual attacks on two women, his spokesman said.

Before his sentencing, Weinstein had been housed at an infirmary on the Rikers Island jail complex because of his health problems. Last week, doctors at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan performed a heart procedure, inserting a stent to alleviate a blockage.

Weinstein, 67, appeared in a Manhattan court on Wednesday in a wheelchair and gave a rambling speech, expressing remorse, but never apologising to his victims.

He compared himself to Hollywood figures blacklisted in the 1950s during a national scare over communism.

But Justice James Burke rejected his pleas for leniency, issuing the relatively long sentence. The judge said evidence had been presented at trial of other sexual assaults in the past.

While it was Weinstein's first conviction, he said, it "was not a first offence."

As his victims broke into tears in the gallery, Weinstein was then handcuffed to his wheelchair and transported back to jail.

Within hours, however, he complained of chest pains and corrections officers sent him to a jail ward at Bellevue, his spokesman, Juda Englemayer, said.

In court, Weinstein's lawyers had made an impassioned plea for the producer to receive a minimum sentence of five years in prison, arguing that even that would likely be a "de facto life sentence."

"Judge, Mr Weinstein, is a sick man," his lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said at the sentencing. "Mr Weinstein has a multitude of medical issues."

Rotunno said in court that Weinstein has a history of heart disease in his family. Without going into detail, she said that one of Weinstein's diagnosed health problems required close monitoring and could be deadly.

She added that a five-year sentence might mean Weinstein would never return to freedom.

"It is very possible that Mr Weinstein, given his health, doesn't live to see the end of that sentence," Rotunno said.

In December, Weinstein underwent back surgery to repair an injury he received in a car accident four months earlier. Since then, he has used a walker to get around.

His health declined rapidly after a jury of seven men and five women convicted him on Feb 24 on charges of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act.

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