Jack Abramoff “will plead guilty to three felony counts in Washington on Wednesday” [at 12:15pm ET – WaPo]… “pleading guilty to fraud, public corruption and tax evasion, setting the stage for prosecutors to begin using him as a cooperating witness against his former business and political colleagues. In exchange, Mr. Abramoff faces a maximum of about 10 years in prison in the Washington case,” reports the NYT.

Update [2006-1-3 11:36:26 by susanhu]: The WaPo has uploaded a copy of the charges (PDF). (I don’t see anything. Do you?)

In the Florida case, Abramoff is pleading guilty today “to fraud and conspiracy in connection with his purchase of the SunCruz casino boat line, and will face a maximum of about seven years’ prison time” (NYT).

The pithy Miami Herald story says it much more bluntly:

In Washington, [his plea deal] would involve providing information about his campaign fundraising and gifts showered upon certain Republican congressmen in exchange for legislative favors. He’s also likely to work out another deal on charges he and N.Y. businessman Adam Kidan defrauded lenders of $20 million to buy SunCruz Casinos.

Update [2006-1-3 12:35:10 by susanhu]: Adds a new A.P. story via MSNBC: “U.S. District Judge Paul Huck has scheduled a telephone status conference for later Tuesday. Four other charges in Florida will remain pending.”

“I believe he has to be giving up members of Congress. Otherwise, Abramoff is as high as you go,” Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Bloomberg.

Some 220 lawmakers received at least $1.7 million in political donations from Abramoff, his associates and nine tribal clients between 2001 and 2004, according to [FEC and IRS] records. Of those, 201 are still in Congress. Republicans received $1.1 million, or 64 percent of the total.

“When this is all over, this will be bigger than any (government scandal) in the last 50 years, both in the amount of people involved and the breadth to it,” said Stan Brand, a former U.S. House counsel who specializes in representing public officials accused of wrongdoing. “It will include high-ranking members of Congress and executive branch officials.” (Bloomberg, Jan. 3, 2006, via ABC’s The Note)

NOTE: The pleas in D.C. (10 years) and Florida (7 years) will be made separately in what is called a “‘global’ arrangement.” And, Abramoff will be allowed to “serve prison time in the two cases concurrently,” as long as he cooperates. But, reports the NYT, “the sentencing will not take place until much further along in the investigation.” (Reddhead calls the concurrent sentencing a “pressure point” deal whose outcome depends on “the level of cooperation given by Abramoff.”)

The WaPo also has an interactive graphic of “The Abramoff Galaxy.”)

Update [2006-1-3 13:27:44 by susanhu]: Tonight, C-SPAN is airing a LIVE call-in program on the Jack Abramoff tribal lobbying investigation story. “Tonight’s topic: money flow from Abramoff clients to his personal projects.” (There’ll be another live call-in show later this week.)

Now, after more than two years of investigations, prosecutors have developed a list of at least a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides and lobbyists whose work appears suspect and who are now at the core of the case. With Mr. Abramoff’s cooperation, the Justice Department will have a potentially critical witness to alleged patterns of corruption or bribery within the Republican leadership ranks, which in some cases they believe also took the form of campaign donations and free meals at Mr. Abramoff’s downtown restaurant, Signatures.

Already, prosecutors have a key witness in Michael Scanlon, once press secretary to Mr. DeLay. (NYT)

For dossiers on the major players, Chocoate Ink recommends the Jack In the Box site. Yesterday, Raw Story‘s John Byrne broke an exclusive: “Firm knew Abramoff was paid by ex-DeLay aide before scandal broke, associates say.”

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