September 04, 2008

Abramoff Requests Leniency in Sentencing for Corruption

Published: September 3, 2008

WASHINGTON — Jack Abramoff, the once high-flying lobbyist who pleaded guilty to a scheme to corrupt Congress, asked a federal judge for mercy on Wednesday, saying he was “not a bad man” although he acknowledged he “did many bad things.”

In a letter sent to Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, the day before she was to sentence him in a Washington courtroom, Mr. Abramoff wrote: “So much that happens in Washington stretches the envelope, skirts the spirit of the law and lives in the loopholes. But even by those standards, I blundered farther than even those excesses would allow.”

He said he had contemplated his behavior during the nearly two years he had already served in prison for an unrelated case involving fraud connected to cruise ships in Florida.

Prosecutors have already asked Judge Huvelle to pare years off the jail term recommended in federal sentencing guidelines, citing Mr. Abramoff’s cooperation in wide-ranging investigations that have resulted in the convictions of one congressman, several Congressional aides and some executive branch officials.

Although he could face up to 11 years in the Congressional corruption case, prosecutors have recommended a sentence of about half that.

The sentencing on Thursday is expected to include public statements from some leaders of American Indian tribes that were defrauded by Mr. Abramoff, in his role as their lobbyist before Congress.


Jack Abramoff, once a top Republican lobbyist on K Street, is asking a federal judge to show mercy when she sentences him Thursday in an epic corruption case that continues to rock Capitol Hill and the GOP establishment.

Abramoff, who is already serving a 70-month sentence stemming from his fraudulent purchase of a Florida casino-cruise ship company, will go before District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle to be sentenced in a scandal that resulted in a prison term for one former member of Congress, a dozen other guilty pleas by former Republican aides and officials, and new ethics legislation enacted at the start of the 110th Congress.

Abramoff and a former business associate, Michael Scanlon, have pleaded guilty to bilking Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees while secretly supplying gifts, including meals, drinks and overseas junkets, to dozens of members and staffers. The Abramoff scandal helped end the political careers of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), and it led to a prison term for former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio).

In an e-mail letter to Huvelle that was released on Wednesday, Abramoff told the judge that he was "not a bad man (although to read all the news articles one would think I was Osama Bin Laden), but I did many bad things. I lied to clients, even while working to get them the results they expected. I cheated my law firm and took advantage of public officials. And, while I gave millions of dollars to charities, I thought I could then skirt the rules in paying the right amount of money to the government in taxes."

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Abramoff could receive at least 108 months in prison, but prosecutors, citing the cooperation he has given them in cases involving Ney, former Interior Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles and other GOP lobbyists and aides, have agreed to ask Huvelle for a 64-month sentence.

Abramoff's attorneys are seeking an even shorter sentence, one that could lead to his release in 2010. Abramoff, who is serving his time in a federal prison in Pennsylvania, is currently scheduled to be released on Dec. 11, 2011 – and that’s without any time added for the Washington case.

In his letter, Abramoff accepts responsibility for his criminal actions. The one-time Republican power player admits that he caused serious damage to his family, friends and colleagues.

"As I have sat alone in prison, realizing what my actions have done to permanently injure people, especially my family, I see that my crimes all had the same cause — my short-sighted and selfish view that ends could justify the means," Abramoff wrote.

"I don't know if I can explain to you the experience of looking backwards and realizing how much you have strayed from an expectation you had for yourself, what your parents wanted you to be, an ideal you set, or a goal you thought was one of life's definitions. That is what I have been thinking about, and those are the realities with which I have been living and will have to live with for the rest of my life."

Abramoff's lawyers have filed testimonials from numerous Abramoff friends and colleagues in a bid to show Huvelle that he was not the evil figure portrayed by Democrats and the media. In his own message to the judge, Abramoff references the fact that he had done good deeds as well as bad. He also apologizes to those who suffered from his criminal acts.

"The good I tried to do and that which I did accomplish cannot make up for the bad," Abramoff wrote. "I just ask that you consider my whole life in seeing that I have a lot to give in the future that might merit your consideration and leniency."

Abramoff added: "You have my life and the life of my family in your hands. I have done very wrong; I have been doing all I can to redeem myself."


White collar crime !! Say, let's not be so lenient anymore. You can smoke a joint in the wrong area, and get 15 years !! Or you can just be panhandling and get a year in jail !!! YET these Republican idiots can get a few months for impoverishing hordes of people just cuz Ka ka ka karl Rove thinks it's a good idea ? I don't think so.

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