[JURIST] Former US lobbyist Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive] was sentenced [DOJ press release] Thursday to four years in prison for tax evasion, fraud and conspiracy. Judge Ellen S. Huvelle [official profile] of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] imposed less than the maximum sentence of 12.5 years but more than the three years and three months recommended by prosecutors [JURIST report] from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. Calling the case "very challenging," Huvelle said she took into account Abramoff's "consistent course of corrupt conduct" as well as his subsequent cooperation with prosecutors. In a sentencing memorandum [text, PDF], the DOJ had asked for a final sentence of 64 months, with credit for time served.
[Such a sentence would be] appropriate given Abramoffs extraordinary cooperation to date, cooperation which can be wholly or partially credited for the convictions of a Member of Congress, five high-level legislative branch officials, one high-level executive branch official, and two other mid to low-level public officials as well as on-going matters. Sixty-four months also is sufficiently severe to reflect the seriousness of Abramoffs conduct, appropriately punishing him for crimes that are egregious.Abramoff's lawyers sought [memorandum, PDF] a sentence no longer than 43 months, running concurrently with time Abramoff is already serving [JURIST report] on other charges. Abramoff also was ordered to pay more than $23 million in restitution to clients he defrauded. AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage. The Washington Post has local coverage.
According to his plea agreement, Abramoff defrauded four Native American tribes and other lobbying clients by charging inflated fees that incorporated kickbacks. Acting on behalf of his clients, Abramoff also tried to influence public officials by giving them lavish trips, campaign contributions, meals and entertainment. The DOJ said its investigation of Abramoff has led to 13 guilty pleas [AP report] by lobbyists and public officials. Among those officials are Robert Coughlin II, deputy chief of staff in the DOJ Criminal Division; Deputy US Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles; US Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH); David Safavian, former chief of staff of the US General Services Administration; and Tony Rudy [JURIST reports], deputy chief of staff and press secretary to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).