A Baltimore multimillionaire businessman who served about half of a 1 1/2-year sentence for paying vulnerable women for sex is now free after convincing a federal judge that his age, obesity and preexisting health conditions put him at higher risk of becoming sick if he contracted COVID-19.

From 2018-2020, Chuck Nabit paid or tried to pay at least $90,000 for sex, using his immense wealth to prey on women who were desperate for money to support their drug addiction or to cover food and shelter expenses, prosecutors said.

Nabit served on the boards of organizations including the March of Dimes, the B&O Railroad Museum and Calvert School, court documents state, and previously owned Mountain Manor Treatment Center, a drug treatment facility in Southwest Baltimore.

He berated, degraded and manipulated women, prosecutors said, and filmed some of the sex acts over their objections.

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“This Court must send a message to the community that the judicial system is not one of ‘Money. Power. Privilege. Rinse. Repeat,’” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary Setzer and Daniel Loveland Jr. wrote in a 21-page sentencing memo. “Even those who are accustomed to successfully bullying others outside the courtroom to get what they want in life, will not be able to throw money around within the courtroom in order to justify a variant sentence below the sentencing guidelines, which are presumed reasonable.”

Nabit, 67, who also lived at homes in Bethany Beach, Delaware, and Deerfield Beach, Florida, was released on Oct. 21 from the Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix, according to the Bureau of Prisons. He is on 24-hour lockdown for the remaining eight months of his sentence, court records state, and can only leave the house to go to doctor appointments or family counseling.

U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III granted Nabit’s motion for compassionate release, agreeing that his age and obesity as well as preexisting health conditions of chronic asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea put him at high risk if he contracted COVID-19.

Russell found that other relevant factors weighed in favor of releasing him to home confinement.

Nabit, he said, did not have a prior criminal record and engaged in “significant philanthropic efforts.” He agreed to put $150,000 in a special trust fund for three women and worked to rehabilitate himself in prison, Russell said.

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The crime, he said, was “extremely serious.” Russell said Nabit exploited vulnerable people with addiction and mental health issues and “used his wealth to manipulate the victims to engage in the sexual encounters.”

“Looking at the need to deter this Defendant and others similarly situated, there is no question that the sentence imposed, even with a reduction to home confinement, will deter this Defendant and others like the Defendant from engaging in this kind of behavior,” Russell said. “The stigma of a felony criminal conviction is a real punishment.”

On home confinement, Nabit would have greater access to his doctor and family counselor and have to pay for their services. He’s put forward a plan to move forward, and loved ones support him, Russell said.

Because he’d served about half his sentence, Russell said, Nabit could have soon been eligible for community release.

Nabit pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in 2021 to transportation of an individual to engage in prostitution and was later sentenced to serve 1 1/2 years in prison plus three years’ supervised release. He was fined $55,000 and ordered to pay a special assessment of $5,100.

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He began serving his time on Jan. 18.

The order explaining the decision to reduce the sentence shows a lack of appreciation for the effect that the crime had on a vulnerable population, said Amanda Rodriguez, executive director of TurnAround, which provides services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and is the rape crisis center for Baltimore and Baltimore County.

TurnAround, she said, went to the sentencing hearing. Nabit offered to donate to the nonprofit organization in an attempt to reduce his punishment, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said she does not believe that anyone who committed such crimes could be rehabilitated in that time. Nabit, she said, is “going to be spending the rest of his sentence in his mansion.”

“It completely dehumanizes the people that he in fact dehumanized,” Rodriguez said. “It does not legitimize, in my opinion, the sentence that was originally given, which was also a slap on the wrist.”

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Aidan Smith, Nabit’s attorney, said his client “deeply regrets his actions and has now had significant time to engage in intensive therapy and other rehabilitative programs.”

“Now that he’s home, he looks forward to reintegrating into society and using his time, energy and resources to make a positive impact on his community,” Smith said.

They thanked the judge for his “well-reasoned and intelligent decision, based on all the facts and circumstances.”

In a 34-page sentencing memo, Nabit’s attorneys wrote that he had otherwise led an exemplary life and described him as a devoted father of two children. He denied being involved in sex trafficking and reported that he’d undergone dozens of hours of psychotherapy and individual therapy sessions.

Nabit filed a motion for compassionate release under a section that allows judges to change a sentence when “extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction.” The court must consider factors for sentencing to the extent that they’re relevant in a case, according to court documents.

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People can file these motions after they’ve exhausted all their options on the administrative level.

In fiscal year 2020, judges decided 7,014 motions for compassionate release and reduced the sentences of 1,805 people, or 25.7%, according to a March 2022 report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

The court granted most of those motions — 95% — in the second half of the fiscal year. That’s when COVID-19 became more pervasive, the report states.

In an email, Marcia Murphy, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the government filed a response that, among other points, mentioned the severity of the conduct.

The motion for compassionate release is not accessible on the public docket.