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Abramoff Sentencing Delayed Until at Least March

Even in prison, disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff still is valuable to federal prosecutors.

A federal judge on Friday approved another three-month delay in Abramoffís sentencing for corruption charges stemming from a Washington, D.C., investigation. Abramoff will not be sentenced in this case until at least March 2007, according to the order issued by U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle.

Abramoff pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion last January related to his work as a powerful Washington lobbyist, and he faces a sentence of 108 to 135 months.

The scandal surrounding the former influence peddler already has brought down a number of GOP figures, including former Rep. Bob Ney (Ohio), who is set to go before a federal judge for sentencing next month.

Abramoff already has begun serving a 70-month sentence for a Florida case that involved the purchase of gambling-cruise ship company. He currently is incarcerated in the Cumberland Federal Correctional Institute, which is located in Cumberland, Md. The minimum-security facility is 130 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., and it is home to a license-plate manufacturing plant. Abramoff is eligible to be released from prison in December 2011.

If Abramoff receives more than 10 years in the Washington case, he will be moved out of the Cumberland site to a maximum-security prison, according to federal officials, making it more difficult for prosecutors to get access to him, and also potentially dissuading Abramoff from cooperating with them as they continue to investigate his activities as a powerful Washington insider. Either way, Abramoff would serve the sentences for both cases concurrently.

With that in mind, both the Justice Department and Abramoffís attorneys sought an additional extension in sentencing him in this case.

Abramoffís former business associate, Michael Scanlon, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in November 2005, also had his sentencing postponed by Huvelle until at least March.

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