James C. Kopp has been assigned to the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, a high-security prison in central Pennsylvania, to serve a life sentence for the killing of Dr. Barnett A. Slepian, an Amherst obstetrician.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed that Kopp is serving his term in the Lewisburg facility, one of just a handful of high-security prisons in the federal system. It's located about 170 miles west of Philadelphia.
A prison bureau spokeswoman declined to say why Kopp was assigned to Lewisburg or whether he is housed in any kind of special unit. The prison houses about 1,500 inmates convicted of serious crimes.
Kopp, 52, had asked U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara at his sentencing last month to be allowed to serve his prison term in New York State. He was convicted of violating a federal law guaranteeing access to reproductive services and with using a firearm in Slepian's killing. Kopp said he only meant to wound Slepian to prevent him from performing abortions.
Kopp also asked that his federal sentence be served concurrent with his earlier state prison term of 25 years to life for Slepian's murder. Arcara rejected both requests.
Kopp further asked that Arcara recommend that he serve his sentence at an East Coast prison, so he could be closer to friends and relatives. Arcara made no recommendation.
Lewisburg, originally known as the Big House after it was built in 1932, has been home to mobsters John Gotti and Henry Hill, accused spy Alger Hiss, and Clifford Irving, who wrote a phony Howard Hughes autobiography.
Kopp had said in an affidavit filed last December that federal prosecutors threatened that if he did not take a guilty plea, they would recommend he spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement at the country's most secure prison, Florence ADMAX in Colorado.
Prosecutors declined to comment at the time and made no recommendation at Kopp's sentencing.