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The 68-year-old Washington, who played for five NBA teams in the 1970s and 1980s, last month argued he was at a "high risk of death or serious illness from COVID-19" due to the "extreme rate of infection" in the U.S. prison system, according to court documents obtained by TMZ Sports.
But officials now say that Washington’s COVID-19 argument was “not enough” to grant his release, the outlet reported, citing new court documents.
"The risk of the spread of COVID-19 alone is not enough to constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons for release," the documents stated.
Thousands of inmates have been released from prisons across the country over fears COVID-19 could rapidly spread through the crowded systems. Some of the released inmates committed low-level, or non-violent crimes, officials have said.
While prisons have ramped up precautions, some inmates and staff have still contracted the virus. Earlier this month, a federal prison in Texas reported an outbreak of 423 new cases, while the news of a potential early release saw inmates in California deliberately try to infect themselves with the virus.
Washington was drafted fifth overall in 1973 by the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent the first five seasons of his nearly decade-long NBA career. He would go on to play for the Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers before retiring in 1983. He made a brief comeback in the 1987-1988 season, but only played in six games for the Golden State Warriors.
Despite getting an All-Star nod in 1980 while in Portland, Washington was best known for throwing a punch that seriously injured Houston Rockets player Rudy Tomjanovich during a 1977 game. Tomjanovich required surgery to reconstruct his face after suffering a fractured skull, a broken nose and broken jaw.
In 2016, Washington was accused of spending thousands of dollars in donations intended for a charity to help children in Africa for his own gain, including paying for vacations, jewelry and entertainment.
He pleaded guilty in 2017 to two counts of making a false statement in a tax return and one count of aggravated identity theft. In 2018, he was sentenced to serve six years and ordered to pay nearly $970,000 in restitution, USA Today reported at the time.