Thursday, March 30, 2006

To Jail With Him!

Big News -- ABRAMOFF IS GOING TO JAIL!

Here's the story from USA Today...
Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a business partner were sentenced Wednesday to five years and 10 months in federal prison, the minimum they faced for fraud related to their 2000 purchase of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet.

Abramoff and Adam Kidan both pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud, but they won't have to report to prison immediately.

The judge postponed their reporting date for at least 90 days so the two can continue cooperating in a Washington corruption investigation and a Florida probe into the killing of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos Boulis. Both deny roles in the killing. Abramoff pleaded guilty in connection with the corruption probe but has yet to be sentenced.

In court Wednesday, Abramoff said the fraud case was "incredibly painful" for himself, his family and his friends.

"In the past two years I have started the process of becoming a new man," he said.

Under their plea agreement, both men had faced a sentence of between five years, 10 months, and seven years, three months in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Paul Huck also ordered them Wednesday to pay restitution of more than $21 million.

Abramoff and Kidan admitted concocting a fake $23 million wire transfer to make it appear they had made a large cash contribution to the $147.5 million purchase of SunCruz Casinos. Based on that fake transfer, lenders provided the pair with $60 million in financing.

The same week Abramoff pleaded guilty to the SunCruz fraud, he entered guilty pleas to three federal charges as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe that could involve up to 20 members of Congress and aides, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

In addition to assisting in that investigation, Abramoff, 47, and Kidan, 41, are expected to give statements in the investigation into the Feb. 6, 2001, slaying of Boulis, who was gunned down at the wheel of his car amid a power struggle over the gambling fleet. Three men face murder charges, including one who worked for Kidan as a consultant at SunCruz and who allegedly has ties to New York's Gambino crime family.

Both Abramoff and Kidan have repeatedly denied any role in or knowledge of the Boulis murder. But prosecutors say Kidan has not been ruled out as a suspect and defense attorneys say Abramoff could provide critical inside information about the dispute with Boulis, who also founded the Miami Subs restaurant chain.

Ultimately, cooperation in those investigations could reduce Abramoff's and Kidan's sentences.

Abramoff, who was wearing a tan baseball-style cap, didn't speak to reporters as he and his lawyers left court after the sentencing.

Before the hearing, more than 260 people — including rabbis, military officers and even a professional hockey referee — wrote letters on the men's behalf asking the judge for leniency.

The letters, obtained by The Associated Press, put a new spin on the foibles and crimes of a man who became the face of Washington's latest corruption scandal.

"Jack is a good person, who in his quest to be successful, lost sight of the rules," National Hockey League referee Dave Jackson wrote, describing the time Abramoff brought 14 youngsters to his dressing room before a game.

Kidan, in his own letter to the judge, said he knew the SunCruz deal was wrong but said he "was very caught up in the fast paced world of my partner and the high profile that came along with it." He added, "I am not the horrible person that the media has written about."

LINK: Abramoff gets almost 6 years in fraud case

-Mr. Joseph

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