[JURIST] Tony Rudy [SourceWatch backgrounder], former deputy chief of staff and press secretary to US Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) [official website, JURIST news archive], pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy Friday. Rudy admitted to working with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff [BBC Q&A, JURIST report], among other people, to corrupt public officials and defraud clients while he was employed by DeLay and later while a partner in the now defunct [Washington Post report] Washington lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group [SourceWatch backgrounder]. The plea deal [press release] contains no allegations of wrongdoing by DeLay, but court documents [criminal information, PDF] do state that Rudy was involved in planning a golf trip to Scotland for Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) [official website] and members of his staff. Rudy's plea also includes a promise to cooperate in further investigations of bribery and lobbying fraud. In exchange, prosecutors will not further charge Rudy or his wife.
Rudy faces a maximum of five years in prison, but US District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle [official profile] stated that he could receive much less time based upon his admission of the crime, lack of criminal record, and participation in the ongoing investigation. That participation is expected to provide a "crucial window" [Bloomberg report] into federal lobbying fraud investigations. Abramoff's indictment for bank fraud [JURIST report] sparked a federal probe [JURIST report] into lobbying practices, resulting in three arrests and the lobbying reform bill [JURIST report] passed by the US Senate earlier this week. AP has more.