Defense Asks Jury to Acquit Ring

Posted October 5, 2009 at 12:50pm

Defense attorneys for former lobbyist Kevin Ring urged a federal jury Monday to declare the former Capitol Hill aide not guilty of multiple corruption charges, declaring the Justice Department failed to provide evidence that Ring had exceeded the boundaries of legal lobbying. “You’ve been treated to a case that’s been long on slogans, long by guilt by association— said lead defense attorney Andrew Wise, who noted that federal prosecutors dropped disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s name eight words into their own closing arguments. “But what has the evidence shown to you about Kevin Ring?—During his more than two-hour closing argument Monday, Wise said Ring’s actions as a member of “Team Abramoff— — including providing Congressional aides with meals and numerous tickets to professional sports and other events — fell within the bounds of legal lobbying practices.“These things happen all the time. The idea that you would have a friendly lunch to maintain and strengthen what had proven to be a valuable contact, that’s not honest services fraud,— Wise told the 16-member jury.Ring, a former aide to then-Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and then-Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.), was indicted in September 2008 as a result of the influence-peddling investigation of Abramoff, his former boss.He faces eight counts of violating federal laws, including conspiracy to commit fraud for providing gifts to public officials in exchange for official acts.Earlier in the day, federal prosecutors offered their depiction of Ring.“This case goes to the core of the American political system. This is about corruption of our democracy,— Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Leotta said.“Don’t let anybody try to tell you this was traditional lobbying,— Leotta told jurors in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, reiterating allegations that Ring exchanged a stream of tickets and expensive meals for official actions by Congressional aides and executive branch officials.“These are crimes, ladies and gentlemen. … They weren’t giving out cash, but when they were giving out tickets to buy official actions, that was honest services fraud.—