|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
Ex-DeLay Aide Cooperating in Bribery Probe
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 22, 7:07 AM ET
WASHINGTON - A former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay who pleaded guilty in a federal bribery probe involving members of Congress has been cooperating with prosecutors since July.
The disclosure about Michael Scanlon, who also is an ex-partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, comes in an investigation of $80 million that the two men collected from six American Indian tribes.
"There have been a lot of conversations" between Scanlon and federal prosecutors over the past five months, Scanlon attorney Plato Cacheris said Monday night. "He had a lot to say."
Scanlon pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to bribe public officials. Under the plea before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, Scanlon will pay restitution totaling more than $19 million to Indian tribes that he admitted had been defrauded.
Abramoff and Scanlon collected more than $80 million between 2001 and 2004 from six Indian tribes with casinos.
On Friday, Scanlon was charged with conspiracy. On Monday, the Justice Department's statement of facts which Scanlon signed went beyond the earlier charging document, revealing that by means of trips, tickets to sporting events and campaign contributions Scanlon and Abramoff "provided a stream of things of value to public officials in exchange for a series of official acts."
DeLay, R-Texas, is among those facing scrutiny for his associations with Abramoff, including a trip to Scotland and use of Abramoff's skybox at a Washington sports arena.
DeLay, who relinquished his post as House majority leader after a separate indictment in Texas, is due in court Tuesday in Austin for a hearing seeking dismissal of conspiracy and money laundering charges.
In the Scanlon plea, documents filed with the court say the items to one unidentified congressman or his staff included all-expense-paid trips to the Northern Marianas Islands in 2000, a trip to the Super Bowl in Tampa., Fla., in 2001 and a golf trip to Scotland in 2002.
Based on information already placed on the public record by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the congressman is Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio.
In a statement, Ney's office said, "All that this plea agreement shows is that Mr. Scanlon had a deliberate, secret, and well-concealed scheme to defraud many people, and it appears, unfortunately, that Rep. Ney was one of the many people defrauded."
Many of the things suggested to have occurred in the plea agreement "did not actually take place," Ney's office said. "Whenever Rep. Ney took official action, actions similar to those taken by elected representatives every day as part of the normal, appropriate government process, he did so based on his best understanding of what was right and not based on any improper influence."
The statement of facts that Scanlon signed said that he and Abramoff — identified in the document as Lobbyist A — provided items to public officials in exchange for "agreements to support and pass legislation, agreements to place statements in the Congressional Record, agreements to contact personnel in the United States Executive Branch agencies and offices to influence decisions of those agencies and offices." A representative of the Inspector General's office in the Interior Department was seated at the table of prosecutors.
The court documents said a senior staffer for "Representative No. 1" and others traveled to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in January 2000 to assist Abramoff and his company in maintaining lobbying clients; Representative No. 1 as the co-chairman of a conference committee of House and Senate members agreed to introduce legislation that would lift existing federal bans against commercial gaming for two Indian tribes in Texas that were Abramoff clients; and that Representative No. 1 met with a California tribe to discuss the congressman's agreement to assist in passing legislation regarding taxation of certain payments received by members of the California tribe.
"Guilty, your honor," Scanlon told the judge when asked how he was pleading.
Scanlon could face up to five years in prison.
The court documents that Scanlon signed say he had a fee-splitting arrangement with Abramoff that was kept secret from the tribes because disclosure likely would have jeopardized the arrangement. Lobbyist A, the court papers said, encouraged his existing clients to hire Scanlon's firm for grass roots and public relations services, while discouraging the clients from seeking competitive pricing and proposals from vendors other than Scanlon's firm.
The prices Scanlon's firm charged for its services "were significantly in excess" of the costs, the statement added.
Outside the courthouse, Scanlon attorney Cacheris said his client regrets what happened to the tribes and "he is trying to do what he thinks is right" by cooperating with the government investigation.
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