Prosecutors in Ring Case Say Gifts Are Crimes

Posted October 5, 2009 at 10:13am

Federal prosecutors offered a final depiction of what they called the crimes of House-aide-turned-lobbyist Kevin Ring, a protégé of disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, as closing arguments in the public corruption trial began Monday.“This case goes to the core of the American political system. This is about corruption of our democracy,— Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Leotta told the 16-member jury Monday morning.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.“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.—Ring’s defense team is set to make its closing arguments following a brief recess.