Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Abramoff Makes Plea Deal, Will Cooperate

Folks, it is time for another exciting episode of The Jack Abramoff Show! This is from Yahoo News:

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.

Jack Abramoff. AP File Photo

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.

If there is ANY story that should make the Republicans nervous, it has got to be this story. Abramoff is a very big fish that the feds have hooked for cooperation. This guy knows all the scams, the money for legislative favor deals--Abramoff was the ubber-lobbyist for Washington politics. When you take Abramoff's plea deal and add it to Tom DeLay's scam for shutting the Democrats out of the K Street lobbying firms, you have one big pile of smelly crap that has just been shoveled onto the Republican Party. Now, are there Democrats that should be nervous about Abramoff? Probably. But I'll bet you're going to see more scandals coming out, and more Republicans getting indicted--especially top Republican leaders in Congress--as a result of the Abramoff deal, during this election year. This is big.

Update Here: Looks like Abramoff pleaded guilty. This is the latest from Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Embattled U.S. lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal charges after agreeing to cooperate in a corruption probe that could involve several top Republican lawmakers, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion before a federal judge in Washington. His lawyer said Abramoff would plead guilty to other charges in Miami on Wednesday.

The long-expected plea will give prosecutors extra ammunition as they seek to link the activities of DeLay of Texas, Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, and other top lawmakers to favors paid for by Abramoff's lobbying clients.

Abramoff's plea was sure to send shockwaves through Congress, where many Republicans and Democrats have benefited from campaign contributions from him or his clients. Lawmakers seeking to distance themselves from him have returned more than $200,000 in recent weeks.

Abramoff faces a maximum sentence of 30 years, but under the terms of the plea deal it will be reduced to between 9 1/2 and 11 years. The sentence could be reduced even further if Abramoff cooperates fully, a Justice Department official said.

As part of the plea deal, Abramoff agreed to pay at least $25 million in restitution.

Wearing a double-breasted, charcoal-colored suit, Abramoff spoke in a hushed voice and said little more than "Yes, your honor," to Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle's questions.

WOW! Abramoff will be facing 9-11 years in prison, and a possible $25 million fine! Without the plea deal, he would have been facing 30 years in prison! If you want to know how to get to the heart of the scandals by the Republicans and their cronies, have them reflect on the possibility of long prison sentences. It is going to get really interesting now. Stay Tuned.

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