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Thread: Jack Abramoff Is Pleading Guilty

  1. #1
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    Jack Abramoff Is Pleading Guilty

    G.O.P. Lobbyist to Plead Guilty in Deal With Prosecutors

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/03/po...-abramoff.html

    By ANNE E. KORNBLUT
    Published: January 3, 2006

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 - Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to three felony counts in Washington today as part of a settlement with federal prosecutors, ending an intense, months-long negotiation over whether the Republican lobbyist would testify against his former colleagues, people involved with the case said.

    Mr. Abramoff, 46, is pleading guilty to fraud, public corruption and tax evasion, setting the stage for prosecutors to begin using him as a cooperating witness against his former business and political colleagues. In exchange, Mr. Abramoff faces a maximum of about 10 years in prison in the Washington case.

    After entering his guilty plea in United States District Court in Washington, Mr. Abramoff will also announce a plea agreement in a related Florida case, in which he was indicted last year. In that case, he is pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy in connection with his purchase of the SunCruz casino boat line, and will face a maximum of about seven years' prison time.

    Mr. Abramoff has been talking to investigators in the corruption case for many months, said participants in the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. They said he had provided a full picture of what evidence he could offer against other suspects.

    His participation in Washington has taken place mostly below the radar, as prosecutors made the Miami case the focus of their public work and as Mr. Abramoff and his associates claimed they were preparing to stand trial, facing up to as many as 30 years in prison.

    Mr. Abramoff will enter separate pleas in each location. But the deal reached with the Justice Department is all-encompassing, reducing the severe penalties Mr. Abramoff could have faced in either investigation, in exchange for his inside knowledge of certain lobbying work and legislative actions. One element of the deal is that he can serve prison time in the two cases concurrently, although the sentencing will not take place until much further along in the investigation.

    Details of the long-sought plea agreement were not made final until after 9 p.m. on Monday night, following weeks of around-the-clock communications between numerous prosecutors in several Justice Department offices and lawyers for Mr. Abramoff. The deal, a so-called "global" arrangement because it encompasses separate prosecutions in Florida and Washington, comes less than a week before Mr. Abramoff was scheduled to stand trial in the Miami case.

    Official Washington has been on edge for months awaiting word of Mr. Abramoff's legal future. Once a masterful Republican lobbyist with close ties to the former House majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay, he earned tens of millions of dollars representing Indian casino interests and farflung entities like the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Through a complicated web of financial arrangements, he helped funnel donations to his lawmaker friends' and their campaigns, and took members of Congress, mainly the Republicans in power, on lavish trips.

    Now, after more than two years of investigations, prosecutors have developed a list of at least a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides and lobbyists whose work appears suspect and who are now at the core of the case. With Mr. Abramoff's cooperation, the Justice Department will have a potentially critical witness to alleged patterns of corruption or bribery within the Republican leadership ranks, which in some cases they believe also took the form of campaign donations and free meals at Mr. Abramoff's downtown restaurant, Signatures.

    Already, prosecutors have a key witness in Michael Scanlon, once press secretary to Mr. DeLay. Mr. Scanlon reached a plea agreement last year, putting pressure on Mr. Abramoff to reach his own deal. Now that Mr. Abramoff has done the same, one person involved in the case said: "When some people hear about this, they will clamor to cut a deal of their own."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #2
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    Abramoff Makes Plea Deal, Will Cooperate

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060103/...lobbyist_fraud

    By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
    1 hour, 39 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON - Lobbyist Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to federal charges in Washington and Miami, clearing the way for him to cooperate in a massive government investigation of influence peddling involving members of Congress, lawyers said Tuesday.

    As part of the deal, prosecutors were filing conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion charges against the embattled lobbyist, a Justice Department official said.

    Abramoff was scheduled to appear at a hearing in U.S. District Court here later Tuesday, said department spokesman Bryan Sierra. Abramoff was expected to plead guilty to three charges as part of his agreement.

    Abramoff was then to plead guilty to two criminal charges in Florida stemming from a 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats, said Neal Sonnett, his attorney there.

    Abramoff will plead guilty to two of the six charges in a federal indictment, Sonnett said.

    U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck has scheduled a telephone status conference for later Tuesday. Four other charges in Florida will remain pending.

    Any such plea agreement likely would secure the Republican lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients. The Justice Department is believed to be focusing on as many as 20 lawmakers and aides.

    Pressure had been intensifying on Abramoff to strike a deal with prosecutors since former partner Adam Kidan pleaded guilty earlier this month to fraud and conspiracy in connection with the 2000 SunCruz boat deal in Florida.

    Abramoff's cooperation would be a boon to an ongoing Justice Department investigation of congressional corruption, possibly helping prosecutors build criminal cases against up to two-dozen lawmakers of both parties and their staff members.

    The continuing saga of Abramoff's legal problems has caused anxiety at high levels in Washington, in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

    White House spokesman Scott McClellan could not Tuesday whether Abramoff ever met President Bush. But when asked at the White House about this, the spokesman said that "what he is reportedly acknowledged doing is unacceptable and outrageous."

    "If laws were broken, he must be held to account for what he did," McClellan said.

    In Florida, Abramoff and Kidan were indicted in August on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with their purchase of the SunCruz fleet for $147.5 million from Miami businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis.

    Prosecutors said the pair faked a $23 million wire transfer to make it appear that they were making a significant contribution of their own money into the deal. Based on that transfer, lenders Foothill Capital Corp. and Citadel Equity Fund Ltd. agreed to provide $60 million in financing for the purchase.

    Kidan pleaded guilty Dec. 15 to one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines at sentencing scheduled for March 1.

    Another of Abramoff's former partners, Michael Scanlon, agreed to cooperate in the SunCruz case as part of a plea agreement in a separate case with federal prosecutors in Washington. In that agreement, Scanlon admitted helping Kidan and Abramoff buy SunCruz, partly by persuading Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio, to insert comments in the Congressional Record designed to pressure Boulis to sell.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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