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Former deputy Interior Secretary pleads guilty in Abramoff lobbying case

[JURIST] As part of a plea deal, former Deputy US Secretary of the Interior J. Steven Griles [Wikipedia profile] pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice charges Friday for lying to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee [official website] in 2005 about his relationship with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive]. In his committee testimony [recorded video and investigation materials], Griles, a former lobbyist himself, failed to disclose that he met Abramoff through his then girlfriend, a Republican environmental activist. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will propose no more than a 10-month sentence for the former Interior Department [official website] second-in-command, half of which could be served under house-arrest or in a halfway house. Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle [official profile] of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] could impose a sentence up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Abramoff is serving a sentence of five years and 10 months in prison [JURIST report] on two conspiracy and fraud charges stemming from falsification of documents to procure a loan for the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casino [corporate website] by Abramoff and his partners. Other people caught in the scandal include former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who is serving a 30 month sentence [JURIST report], and David Safavian, a former White House official [JURIST report]. This week federal prosecutors recommended reducing Abramoff's sentence [JURIST report] in light of his cooperation in another Washington corruption case. AP has more.

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