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Abramoff Associate Avoids Halfway House

POSTED: 11:03 AM ET, 08/ 5/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Italia Federici
Italia Federici, 38, was sentenced to 60 days in a halfway house. (Melina Mara/twp - Twp).

Italia Federici, a figure in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal who acted as a conduit for Abramoff's dealings with the top ranks of the Interior Department, will not have to spend time in a halfway house, a U.S. District Court judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle decided yesterday that Federici does not have to serve 60 days in a halfway house as part of her sentence. Federici's psychiatrist and her probation officer asked for the special abeyance, which was filed in March.

Federici, 38, is one of more than a dozen people who have been convicted or pleaded guilty as a result of the ongoing federal investigation into Abramoff's activities. She served as president for three years of Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, a nonprofit group founded in 1997 by Gale Norton -- before she became interior secretary -- and conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

Abramoff and his Indian tribal clients donated $500,000 to Federici's group between 2001 and 2003 in an effort to influence J. Steven Griles, the Interior Department's deputy secretary at the time, with whom Federici was romantically involved. Among the department actions that Abramoff tried to influence through Federici was the campaign by a Louisiana Indian tribe for the right to open a casino.

Federici pleaded guilty in June 2007 to withholding information and making false statements in fall 2005 testimony to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, according to federal court documents. She admitted to misleading the committee "about the extent to which she, Abramoff and Griles communicated" about pending Interior Department issues "that directly affected Abramoff's clients."

She also knowingly failed to pay income taxes on $187,000 in salary she drew over three years from the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy.

She was ordered to serve 60 days in a halfway house; four years' probation; pay $77,243 in restitution; and participate in a mental health treatment program. She is also barred from incurring new credit card charges or havng access to a firearm, among other conditions.

By Derek Kravitz |  August 5, 2008; 11:03 AM ET Abramoff Scandal
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