Lawyer Explains Ring’s Cooperation With Feds

Posted September 8, 2008 at 3:51pm

The former Hill aide and lobbying partner of Jack Abramoff who was indicted on corruption charges Monday cooperated with the government for months, but was deemed “uncooperative” when he refused to plead guilty to crimes he did not commit, his lawyer said.

The Justice Department unsealed a 10-count indictment against Kevin Ring — former legislative director to Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and later a member of Abramoff’s lobbying team — alleging that Ring provided gifts to “several public officials” to reward them for taking actions beneficial to Ring’s clients.

The Justice Department alleges that Ring and others identified public officials who could be helpful to their clients, and then “groomed those public officials by providing things of value with the intent of making those public officials more receptive to requests on behalf of their clients in the future.”

The indictment spells out rafts of gifts, including tickets to sporting events and free meals, that Ring provided to Congressional staff, Members of Congress and Justice Department officials in exchange for their assistance on matters benefitting clients of Abramoff’s lobbying team.

Ring, 37, was arrested Monday.

Ring’s attorney, Richard Hibey, issued a statement Monday afternoon arguing that Ring had made every effort to cooperate with the Justice Department investigation of Abramoff. Ring voluntarily sat for about 100 hours of interviews with federal agents, Hibey said, but “in 2007, when a new cadre of DOJ lawyers took over the case, the government insisted that Mr. Ring plead guilty to various fraud and corruption related offenses and to implicate others as the price of leniency.” When Ring refused, he was tabbed “uncooperative,” Hibey said.

Hibey said that given Ring’s prior cooperation, Ring’s arrest this morning was “a completely unnecessary step, which seems to have little purpose beyond embarrassing Mr. Ring.”

Hibey said Ring “intends to fully contest these charges.”

The charges against Ring include one count of conspiracy to obtain benefits “through corrupt means”; one count of payment of illegal gratuities; six counts of wire fraud for e-mails sent as part of the alleged conspiracy; one count of obstruction of justice for lying to an investigator hired by the lobbying firm of Greenberg Traurig to look into the allegations against Abramoff and his team; and one obstruction count for allegedly lying to the grand jury.