Abramoff Gets Almost 6 Years in Prison

MIAMI (ABC/AP) 10 minutes ago – Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former business partner were sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for fraud related to their 2000 purchase of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet.

The sentences were the minimum under their plea agreement in the case.

Abramoff and Adam Kidan, who both pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud, won’t start their sentences immediately so they can continue cooperating in a Washington corruption investigation and a Florida probe into the murder of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis.

In court, Abramoff said the case was “incredibly painful” for himself, his family and his friends. “In the past few years I have begun the process of becoming a new man.”

  «« click on pic to enlarge
A courtroom sketch shows Jack Abramoff, center, standing before U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck, far left, at the federal justice building in Miami where he plead quilty to two of six counts of wire fraud and mail fraud stemming from the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos, Jan. 4, 2006.
AP Photo/Jeanne Boggs

Abramoff had arrived at the courthouse several hours early, avoiding the media before his sentencing. Under the plea agreement, both faced a sentence of between five years, 10 months, and seven years, three months in federal prison.

Both were also ordered to pay restitution of more than $21 million.

The two admitted concocting a fake $23 million wire transfer to make it appear they had made a large cash contribution to the $147.5 million purchase of SunCruz Casinos. Based on that fake transfer, lenders provided the pair with $60 million in financing.

The same week Abramoff pleaded guilty to the SunCruz fraud, he entered guilty pleas to three federal charges as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe that could involve up to 20 members of Congress and aides, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. No date has been set for his sentencing in that case.

Abramoff: “Forgive my trespasses”

MIAMI (Bloomberg) March 29 — Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist at the center of a Washington corruption scandal, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison in an unrelated fraud case in Florida.

U.S. District Judge Paul Huck in Miami accepted the plea of Abramoff’s lawyers for the shortest possible prison time. The lawyers had submitted a 61-page memorandum attesting to Abramoff’s character and remorse, along with 262 letters of support, including one from U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican.

Abramoff, 47, was given 90 days in which to voluntarily surrender, although Huck said his lawyers could come back and ask for more time. Abramoff is cooperating with investigators in the Washington corruption case, and his lawyers have argued that he needs to remain free to continue those discussions.

“I can only hope that the Almighty and those that I have wronged will forgive my trespasses,” Abramoff said to the judge before sentencing.

Washington Conspiracy

(Bloomberg) — In the Washington case, Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt public officials, mail fraud and tax evasion. He faces 30 years in prison in that case, although the Justice Department said it will recommend a reduced sentence depending on how much he cooperates.

The government says Abramoff and former business partner Michael Scanlon, a one-time aide to DeLay, pocketed tens of millions of dollars from Indian-tribe clients.

At least two Republican lawmakers have been connected to the Florida case. Abramoff listed Dana Rohrabacher as a reference for his loan, the Washington Post reported. And according to the Washington indictment, Representative Bob Ney placed comments in the Congressional Record that were helpful to Abramoff’s bid to buy the company. Ney, an Ohio Republican, has denied wrongdoing.

These days, Abramoff is spending much of his time talking to prosecutors and investigators in Washington. His attorneys said he has spent hundreds of hours with them and reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents as part of his cooperation.

“But I will not let myself be reduced to silence.”

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