Former lobbyist Jack A. Abramoff was sentenced today to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $23,134,695 in restitution to victims based on his guilty plea to conspiracy, honest services fraud and tax evasion charges, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and Nathan J. Hochman, Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division announced.
U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the District of Columbia also sentenced Abramoff, 49, to three years of supervised release following his release from prison. Abramoff pleaded guilty on Jan. 3, 2006, to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud involving public officials and fraud involving Abramoff’s clients; one-count of honest services fraud involving public officials; and one count of tax evasion.
According to the plea agreement signed by Abramoff, from 1994 through early 2004 he was employed in the Washington, D.C., offices of two law firms. During this time, Abramoff lobbied public officials in the federal government, principally members of Congress. He also sought to further his client’s interests through grassroots work, public relations services and election campaign support. Abramoff admitted he received undisclosed kickbacks from former lobbyist Michael Scanlon, who owned and operated Capitol Campaign Strategies LLC (CCS). Abramoff and Scanlon conspired to defraud four Native American Indian tribes that either operated or were interested in operating gaming casinos. Each of these four clients, which were tribes located in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Michigan, hired Abramoff through his employers to give advice regarding how best to limit competition from competing casinos or, in one instance, to re-open a previously closed casino.
According to information in the plea agreement, once Abramoff had established a relationship with the tribal clients, he recommended Scanlon and CCS as the primary provider for grassroots work and public relations services. As Abramoff and Scanlon knew, the clients relied on Abramoff’s recommendation because of his expertise in these matters. As part of the scheme described in the information and plea agreement, Abramoff and Scanlon charged fees that incorporated huge profit margins and then split the net profits in a secret kickback arrangement. As both men admitted, the secrecy of the kickback arrangement was crucial to the success of their scheme, and Scanlon and Abramoff concealed the arrangement from the tribal clients. In addition, Abramoff admitted to defrauding other clients by making affirmative false statements regarding various aspects of his lobbying and grassroots work. As stipulated in the agreement, through Abramoff’s scheme with Scanlon as well as other frauds he committed with others not including Scanlon, Abramoff received more than $23 million in undisclosed criminal kickbacks and other fraudulently obtained funds.
Abramoff also admitted that as part of the criminal conspiracy, and as one means of accomplishing results for their clients, he and others engaged in a pattern of corruptly providing things of value to public officials, including trips, campaign contributions, and meals and entertainment, with the intent to influence acts by the public officials that would benefit Abramoff and his clients. For example, Abramoff admitted in his plea that he and others provided things of value to public officials and members of his staff, including, but not limited to, a lavish trip to Scotland to play golf on world-famous courses, tickets to sporting events and other entertainment, regular meals at Abramoff’s upscale restaurant and campaign contributions. At the same time, and in exchange for these things of value, Abramoff sought and received the public officials’ agreements to perform directly and through others a series of official acts, including but not limited to, agreements to support and pass legislation, and agreements to place statements in the Congressional Record.