Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Jack Abramoff Cops a Plea

Uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to three felonies today in federal court today. As the Washington Post reports, prosecutors expect his testimony in other cases:
Although the charges could bring Abramoff a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, the actual sentence is more likely to be about a third of that if he fulfills his part of the plea agreement, lawyers said.
The plea bargain settles one of two fraud and corruption cases against Abramoff, involving charges stemming principally from his lobbying activities in Washington on behalf of Native American tribes. The other case, arising from an indictment in Miami in connection with the purchase of a fleet of casino cruise ships, is expected to be settled by another plea agreement.
Abramoff is scheduled to enter a guilty plea Wednesday in Florida to two counts of conspiracy and fraud, out of six criminal charges in a federal indictment resulting from the 2000 purchase of the gambling ship company. Abramoff and Kidan were indicted in August 2005 on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with the purchase of the SunCruz Casinos fleet from Miami businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis.
Who, by the way, is dead:
Boulis was killed in a gangland-style hit in Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 6, 2001. Three men -- including a business associate Kidan had hired to provide catering and security services for SunCruz -- were charged last year in the Boulis murder.
Abramoff's testimony is likely to end the careers of some powerful players in Washington. First up could be "Representative #1" a.k.a. Ohio congressman Robert Ney. Abramoff's former partners, Adam Kidan and Michael Scanlon (a former aide to Tom DeLay) have already pleaded guilty to related charges. Former deputy Interior secretary J. Steven Griles received a job offer from Abramoff while in office. Senator Conrad Burns (R-Montana) and Representative John T. Doolittle (R-California) have benefitted from Abramoff's generosity and are sweating it out.
The list of nervous notables goes on and on:
Prior to resolution of any issues involving DeLay, prosecutors are continuing to investigate two of DeLay's top former deputies, Edwin A. Buckham and Tony C. Rudy. Abramoff maintained a business relationship with Buckham, who runs the Alexander Strategy Group with Rudy.
Among the areas of interest are questions about client business steered to the Alexander Strategy Group at a time when the firm was hiring the spouses of members of Congress, including DeLay's wife, Christine DeLay, and Doolittle's wife, Julie Doolittle.
Christine DeLay was paid about $115,000 over three years while performing a special project -- contacting members of Congress to find out their favorite charity, according to her attorney.


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