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The Many Faces of the Abramoff Scandal

POSTED: 10:00 AM ET, 02/ 4/2009 by Derek Kravitz

Seventeen politicians, aides and lobbyists have been charged in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal since 2006, with nine people having been sentenced prison terms and probation.

The corruption scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff is still tripping up a host of lobbyists and ex-congressional aides, more than four years after the first allegations of wrongdoing on Capitol Hill surfaced.

Former Vice President Al Gore famously referred to the Abramoff scandal as "but the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government."

The Post's Investigations blog has compiled a summary of the 19 people (17 people have been charged with felonies, one with a misdemeanor and one has pleaded not guilty) charged in connection with the Abramoff case. Here they are, sorted by sentence and charge:


— Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the focus and linchpin of the massive lobbying and corruption scandal, was sentenced in September 2008 to four years in prison for charges in the case. Abramoff, who is cooperating with authorities, is also serving a nearly six-year sentence in federal prison in Cumberland, Md., for fraud in his purchase of a Florida casino cruise line. He is in the second year of that sentence and will likely be in prison until 2012. Sentence: 9 years and 10 months in prison in connection with two separate cases.

Adam Kidan, a New York City businessman who had owned the Dial-a-Mattress franchise in Washington, pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos with Abramoff. He was sentenced in March 2006 for one count of conspiracy and one of wire fraud and ordered to pay restitution of more than $21 million with Abramoff. In June 2008, Kidan's sentence was reduced to 35 months.
Sentence: 5 years and 10 months in prison. Reduced to 35 months in 2008.

— Former Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) pleaded guilty in October 2006 to trading political favors for gifts and campaign donations arranged by Abramoff and his associates. The eight-term Republican from eastern Ohio entered a federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va., in March 2007 and transferred to a halfway house in Cincinnati in February 2008 after completing a drug-rehabilitation program for alcoholism. He was released in August and now works as a commentator for Talk Radio News Network. Sentence: 30 months in prison. Served 17 1/2 months.

J. Steven Griles, the former No. 2 official in the Interior Department, pleaded guilty in March 2007 to lying to the Senate about his relationship with Abramoff. A federal judge doubled the sentence prosecutors had originally recommended, despite a tearful plea by Griles for leniency. Sentence: 10 months in prison and a $30,000 fine.

More after the jump...

Italia Federici, the former president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy and Griles's onetime girlfriend, pleaded guilty to evading taxes and obstructing the Senate's investigation of Abramoff's lobbying for Indian tribes. Prosecutors said she acted as a go-between between Griles and Abramoff and Federici cooperated with investigators. In August, Federici's psychiatrist and her probation officer asked for the sentence to be suspended, which was granted. Sentence: 60 days in a halfway house and four years' probation. Suspended.

Robert Jared Carpenter, the former vice president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Prosecutors had asked that Carpenter be sentenced to a term of 10 to 16 months in jail. Sentence: 45 days in a halfway house and four years' probation.

William Heaton, also a former chief of staff to Ney, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in February 2007. Heaton admitted to receiving tens of thousands of dollars in gambling chips, overseas travel and other benefits. He ended up helping federal authorities in their case against Ney. Sentence: Two years' probation and a $5,000 fine.

Neil G. Volz, a former chief of staff to Ney, pleaded guilty in May 2006 to accepting gifts from Abramoff, then joining Abramoff's lobbying team where he gave Ney luxury trips, meals and sports tickets in exchange for official favors. Sentence: Two years' probation and a $2,000 fine.


David H. Safavian, the former chief of staff at the General Services Administration, was convicted in December 2008 of obstructing an inspector general's investigation into a pricey 2002 golf trip, which was largely financed by Abramoff, and of lying on a financial disclosure form about its costs. Safavian also was convicted of making false statements to an FBI agent and a GSA ethics officer. He was acquitted of giving a false statement to a Senate committee. Safavian's 2006 conviction on the same charges was overturned by a federal appeals court in June. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison following that verdict; he is awaiting his second sentencing.

Trevor Blackann, a lobbyist and former chief of staff to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), pleaded guilty in November 2008 to lying on his 2003 tax returns by not reporting $4,100 in gifts, including World Series tickets, from a lobbyist. In recent years, Blackann has worked as a lobbyist for Dairy Farmers of America Inc. He has yet to be sentenced.

James F. Hirni, a lobbyist, pleaded guilty in December 2008 to helping provide an "all-expenses paid" trip to the 2003 World Series for two congressional aides in exchange for favors. He has yet to be sentenced but likely faces between 6 months and 33 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines; Hirni was fired a month before from his job as a top lobbyist for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Todd Boulanger, a lobbyist and former aide to Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.), was charged in January 2008 with plying government officials with gifts, including sporting and concert tickets, meals and all-expense paid trips, in exchange for political favors. He has announced he is cooperating with investigators. Prosecutors have recommended anywhere between 18 to 24 months in prison, with reduced time if he helps.

Michael Scanlon, the former press secretary to then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, pleaded guilty in November 2005 to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials. He agreed to pay back more than $19 million he fraudulently charged Indian tribal clients and is cooperating with investigators. The former public relations executive is awaiting sentencing.

Tony C. Rudy, the former deputy chief of staff to DeLay, pleaded guilty in April 2006 to charges that he conspired with Abramoff to corrupt public officials and defraud his clients. Rudy, who pleaded guilty to honest services fraud, mail and wire fraud, and a violation of conflict of interest post-employment restrictions, admitted taking money, meals, trips and tickets to sporting events from Abramoff in exchange for official acts that included influencing legislation to help the lobbyist's clients. He agreed to cooperate with investigators and is awaiting sentencing.

John C. Albaugh, the former chief of staff to Rep. Ernie Istook (R-Okla.), pleaded guilty in June 2008 to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Among the items he's accused of taking from Abramoff and Co.: tickets to George Strait and Tim McGraw concerts. He awaits sentencing.

Mark D. Zachares, a former aide to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), pleaded guilty in April 2007 to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Federal prosecutors recommended a jail sentence of 18 to 24 months for the former House Transportation Committee staffer. He awaits sentencing.

Robert E. Coughlin II, an attorney and the former deputy chief of staff of the Justice Department's criminal division, pleaded guilty in April 2008 to federal conflict of interest charges. Coughlin admitted to accepting thousands of dollars worth of meals and sports tickets from Abramoff in exchange for helping a variety of Abramoff's clients. He is cooperating with investigators, possibly against former Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.), and awaits sentencing.

Roger Stillwell, the former desk officer in charge of the Marianas Islands for the Interior Department, pleaded guilty in June 2006 to a misdemeanor count of false certification for accepting free meals from Abramoff.


Kevin A. Ring, a former lobbyist for Abramoff and aide to ex-Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.), was charged in September 2008 with conspiring with Abramoff and others to corrupt public officials. He pleaded not guilty to 10 conspiracy, fraud and obstruction-of-justice charges; Ring is accused of lavishing sports tickets and meals on lawmakers and executive branch officials who helped his lobbying clients.

By Derek Kravitz |  February 4, 2009; 10:00 AM ET Abramoff Scandal
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Welcome to the Banana Republic of America.

Posted by: drne | February 4, 2009 6:20 PM

Welcome to the Banana Republic of America. We need to hold special days of atonement for the likes of Abramof, Madof, Fuld and others.

Posted by: drne | February 4, 2009 6:25 PM

Good article, but tip of the iceberg. Consider that more than 20 billion dollars a year is now being generated with Indian gaming, and no one, not the Washington Post, NY Times, no one, is investigating the corruption in Indian Country. And, the bastions of free press are doing nothing about the dozens of Indian journalists with small tribal newspapers being sued, harassed and fired. If it happened in Iraq or Iran, front page news. In Shawnee, Oklahoma or Missoula, Montana, it gets no play. Why? We are begging you to answer that question, Why do you not hear us?

Posted by: johnnie51 | February 6, 2009 9:31 PM

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