News and articles relating to the scandal surrounding Washington D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff

Thursday, March 30, 2006

After sentencing Abramoff to remain free for at least three months

AP Legal Affairs Writer

MIAMI -- Lobbyist Jack Abramoff has at least three months before he has to don a prison uniform thanks to a judge who has put off his sentence while he and former partner Adam Kidan assist in a corruption investigation involving Congress and the Bush administration.

U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck sentenced Abramoff and Kidan to five years and 10 months in prison for fraud in the 2000 purchase SunCruz Casinos, the minimum sentence recommended under federal guidelines.

Huck also agreed to postpone prison reporting dates for the men. That is to allow them to continue cooperating in an investigation of the broad Washington corruption scandal as well as a probe into the 2001 killing in Fort Lauderdale of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis. Both deny having any role in the death.

Ultimately, if prosecutors are satisfied with Abramoff's and Kidan's cooperation in the other investigations, the sentences initially imposed on them could be reduced.

"They are both trying to atone for their conduct by cooperating with the government," said Lawrence LaVecchio, an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the SunCruz case. "I have every reason to believe they will continue to cooperate."

Huck also ordered Abramoff, 47, and Kidan, 41, to pay $21.7 million in restitution to lenders victimized by their fraud scheme. Both must serve three years' probation after they get out of prison.

Abramoff, dressed in a dark business suit, said in brief remarks prior to sentencing that the day was "incredibly painful" for himself, his friends and family but that he intended to make amends.

"I am much chastened and profoundly remorseful over the reckless and hurtful things I have done in my life, especially those which have brought me before you today. I can only hope that the Almighty and those whom I have wronged will forgive me my trespasses," Abramoff said.

Kidan also expressed remorse, saying his goal in life now is to become a better role model for his 2-year-old daughter. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it and wish it would have turned out differently," Kidan told the judge.

Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud for concocting a $23 million wire transfer to make it appear they were contributing a sizable stake of their own money to the $147.5 million SunCruz purchase. Based on the transfer, lenders gave the pair $60 million in financing.

The SunCruz fleet of 11 ships had 2,300 slot machines and 175 gaming tables and sailed from nine Florida ports and Myrtle Beach, S.C., to international waters. The company continues to operate gambling cruises under new ownership after emerging from bankruptcy.

Abramoff and Kidan were charged in a six-count grand jury indictment in August. The remaining four counts of the indictment were dismissed.

The same week in January that 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. No date has been set for his sentencing in that case.

That investigation arose from Abramoff's representation of six Indian tribes, which he and a partner billed for $80 million between 2001 and 2004. They directed the tribes to give thousands of dollars in political campaign contributions. Tribal leaders have said in many cases they were unaware of what was happening to their money.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Intoxination has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Intoxination endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)