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Lobbyist to plead guilty to fraud, other charges
Abramoff agrees to cooperate with federal prosecutors
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff has entered a cooperation deal with federal prosecutors, a source says.
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 Posted: 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former high-powered lobbyist Jack Abramoff will plead guilty Tuesday to corruption, fraud and tax evasion charges in a deal with federal prosecutors, a source close to the negotiations told CNN.
Abramoff has reached an agreement that would spare him the maximum 10-year sentence if he cooperates in an ongoing Washington corruption probe, the source said.
Abramoff is a longtime associate of several top GOP leaders, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Americans for Tax Reform director Grover Norquist, and former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed. (Watch details of the deal -- 4:11)
Abramoff's cooperation deal could have a wide-reaching effect in Washington.
Sources told CNN's Ed Henry that the former lobbyist may have thousands of e-mails in which he describes influence-peddling and explains what lawmakers were doing in exchange for the money he was putting into their campaign coffers.
The source close to the investigation said investigators are looking at about half a dozen members of Congress.
Sources said Abramoff has been cooperating with the Justice Department for months without any kind of plea deal. He will not be sentenced until his cooperation is complete, the source added. (Read a summary of the charges -- PDF)
Michael Scanlon, another former Abramoff associate, pleaded guilty in November in a separate case in Washington.
Prosecutors accused Scanlon in court papers of conspiring to "corruptly offer and provide things of value, including money, meals, trips and entertainment, to federal public officials in return for agreements to perform official acts" benefiting Scanlon and his lobbyist partner.
The partner is identified in the court documents only as Lobbyist A and is not facing charges in the corruption investigation. One government official told CNN that Lobbyist A is Abramoff.
The government alleged that between January 2000 and April 2004, Scanlon and the lobbyist "would falsely represent to their clients that certain of the funds were being used for specific purposes."
In fact, prosecutors said, "Scanlon and Lobbyist A would use those funds for their own personal benefit and not for the benefit of their clients."
"It was a purpose of the conspiracy for Scanlon and Lobbyist A to enrich themselves by obtaining substantial funds from their clients through fraud and concealment and through obtaining benefits for their clients through corrupt means," the prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also detailed a "stream of things of value" given to an unnamed congressman, identified in the court documents as Representative No. 1.
The items listed include a "lavish" trip to Scotland to play golf, tickets to sporting events and campaign contributions to the representative and his political action committee in exchange for a series of actions by that representative.
The Justice Department would not identify the congressman. But government sources have said he is Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee.
In the court documents, prosecutors alleged Scanlon and Lobbyist A got the lawmaker "to perform a series of official acts."
Ney denies wrongdoing
According to the documents, those acts included supporting bills, placing statements in the Congressional Record, meeting with the lobbyists' clients and supporting a client of Abramoff's in a bid to win a contract for wireless telephone service for the House of Representatives.
Ney is known to have entered comments in the Congressional Record against a man standing in the way of an Abramoff project, and he took a 2002 golf trip to Scotland that Abramoff sponsored.
Ney's office has said that any allegation that the congressman "did anything illegal or improper is false."
Ney is the only member of Congress to disclose that he has been subpoenaed as part of the investigation -- a step required under House rules.
Abramoff's name also surfaced earlier this year amid ethics questions about DeLay, a longtime friend. The Washington Post has reported DeLay took two expensive overseas trips that Abramoff and other lobbyists bankrolled -- a violation of House rules, if true.
DeLay has denied wrongdoing, calling the report "just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me."
DeLay, who himself is facing money laundering charges, was forced to step down from his leadership position in September after he was indicted on conspiracy charges that were later dropped.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, Kevin Bohn and Ed Henry contributed to this report.
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