Judge Suggests Ex-Staffer’s Trial Will Go On

Posted April 9, 2009 at 12:46pm

U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle indicated Thursday that she will not dismiss an indictment against former House aide and lobbyist Kevin Ring, charged in the ongoing influence-peddling investigation of disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Huvelle did not immediately issue a formal opinion in the case, but she said, “This indictment is not going away.—

Attorneys for Ring had sought to dismiss the indictment — which includes charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, bribery and obstruction of justice — asserting he did not violate any laws in existence at the time of the allegations.

Ring attorney Andrew Wise argued at a status hearing Thursday that Ring’s actions, including providing tickets to sporting events to various individuals, were “tools that were quite traditional and widely accepted.—

In addition, Ring’s attorneys questioned the government’s allegations that Ring actively sought to bribe or provide an illegal gratuity to Congressional or executive branch employees.

“You can’t just line up things of value, you can’t just line up [official] acts, and presume the requisite explicit agreement,— Wise said.

But federal prosecutors refuted those arguments: “Intent is the key to this case,— prosecutor Michael Ferrara said.

Ring, who was an aide to then-Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and later joined Abramoff as a lobbyist, appeared in court dressed in a gray suit and green and black striped tie.

Prior to the two-hour hearing, Ring appeared upbeat, speaking with unidentified individuals in courtroom’s gallery, but during the session he sat rubbing his forehead for several minutes at a time.

Ring is scheduled to go on trial in September.