Saturday, December 31, 2005

AP: Abramoff close to cooperation deal

This is just a day to wrap up scandals. Now we have an episode of The Jack Abramoff Show! This is from CNN.Com:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal prosecutors and lawyers for lobbyist Jack Abramoff are putting the finishing touches on a plea deal that could be announced early next week, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The plea agreement would secure the Republican lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients.

Pressure has 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.

Adam Kidan, above, and Jack Abramoff were parters in a Florida casino deal that led to the indictment. From CNN.Com.

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 20 lawmakers of both parties and their staff members.

The people, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks, said the lawyers spoke by phone with U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck, giving him an update on the plea negotiations.

Huck scheduled another status conference for Tuesday afternoon, but the deal could be completed before then, the people said. Abramoff could sign the plea agreement and exchange it with prosecutors via fax over the weekend, they said.

Jack Abramoff, Reuter's File Photo

Details of where Abramoff will enter his plea are still being worked out. Abramoff's lawyers have indicated that they want the plea to be made in U.S. District Court in Washington, one person said.

If that happens, Abramoff would plead guilty to charges contained in a criminal information -- a filing made by a federal prosecutor with a defendant's permission that bypasses action by a grand jury.

The lawyers could then apprise Huck about the plea and its effect on the case in Miami.

What a way to ring the New Year in--A Jack Abramoff plea deal! What surprises me is that Abramoff's cooperation could allow prosecutors to build criminal cases against 20 lawmakers, and their staff! I'm wondering who these lawmakers are? How many of these lawmakers are Republican or Democratic?

Of course, Abramoff's cooperation could bear pressure in other ways. Consider the WaPost's story about the U.S. Family Network, which was headed by former Tom DeLay staffer Ed Buckham. What does Abramoff know about this U.S. Family Network, and its connections with either the Marianas' textile companies, the Choctaw Indian casinos, or even the Russian oil execs--considering that Abramoff had lobbying ties with all three of these interest groups. Whatever Abramoff says regarding the U.S. Family Network, could bring pressure of a federal investigation against Ed Buckham and his defunct organization. And who knows where that investigation could go?

It is going to be an interesting year!

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