Judge Refuses to Dismiss Charges Against Abramoff Associate
A federal judge refused Thursday to throw out any corruption charges against a one-time associate of convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling that called into question the law under which he is being prosecuted.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle on Thursday denied a motion for acquittal filed by Kevin Ring, a former lobbyist on Abramoff’s team who is facing eight corruption counts.
Six of those eight counts stem from an honest services fraud statute, which many legal observers say was gutted in the high court’s June decision in the case of Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron executive. Huvelle had asked the government to respond to the Skilling decision.
Federal prosecutors had previously employed the honest services statute in a broad range of public corruption cases, including Ring’s indictment and numerous plea deals in connection with the Abramoff investigation. The honest services law provided prosecutors more legal flexibility than the rigid requirements of other crimes, such as bribery.
But the Supreme Court ruled that the federal statute now applies only in cases involving bribery or kickback schemes, meaning prosecutors may now have to prove bribery to pursue an honest services fraud charge.
Ring was already tried on the eight counts that he now faces. The judge declared a mistrial last year after the jury could not reach a verdict.
Ring, whose second trial is scheduled for Oct. 18, worked as a lobbyist for Abramoff, who has been released from jail, at Greenberg Traurig and the former Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds.