Feds Suggest Abramoff’s Still Helping

Posted April 10, 2007 at 6:25pm

Signaling that the probe continues, a federal judge agreed this week to hold a new hearing that may result in less jail time for disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In a filing with U.S. District Court Judge Paul Huck in Miami, the government said Abramoff had “provided substantial assistance” to the government in its wide-ranging probe of federal corruption.

But it asked the court to delay a ruling on a reduced sentence until the government’s collaboration with Abramoff is complete. The government did not specify what its recommendation for that reduced sentence would be.

“Some of the information provided by the defendant to the government within one year of the sentencing did not become useful to the government until recently,” the government stated.

That’s because Abramoff is collaborating, the government said, in a probe headquartered outside of Florida and in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, the government filed separate papers in Washington, D.C., requesting that Abramoff’s sentencing date, originally scheduled for March, be postponed until June 2 at the latest.

Abramoff already is serving a five-and-a-half-year sentence at a minimum security prison in Cumberland, Md., for his role in the Florida-based SunCruz Casinos fraud case.

He pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, 2006, to separate charges of tax evasion, fraud and conspiracy to bribe public officials in exchange for access and government favors.

One lawmaker — ex-Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who is serving 30 months in prison — several former Congressional aides and two Bush administration officials have been felled by the wide-ranging corruption probe.

The latest casualty is J. Steven Griles, a former deputy secretary of the Interior, who pleaded guilty on March 23 to lying to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee about the extent of his relationship with Abramoff.

The next shoe to drop in the ongoing corruption probe is expected to involve Griles’ former girlfriend, Italia Federici. Federici allegedly acted as liaison between Griles and Abramoff, who sought favors for his American Indian tribal clients from the Interior Department official.

The Justice Department notified Federici in January that she was the target of a federal probe and could face five charges in relation to her dealings with Abramoff.

Federal investigators are probing the money received from Indian tribes by Federici’s nonprofit environmental group, Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy.

“The investigation is focused on the allegedly illegal manner in which you operated the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy” the Jan. 19 letter to Federici, first reported by the Legal Times, states. “The government has also received information that you may have assisted others in depriving the American public of the honest services of at least one administration official.”