Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a business partner were sentenced yesterday in Miami to 70 months in federal prison, the minimum penalty for their conviction on fraud charges related to their 2000 purchase of a line of gambling ships. They also were ordered to pay restitution of more than $21 million.
The judge, however, postponed the date for them to report to prison so they can continue cooperating in other investigations, including a separate Washington corruption probe that may involve former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-TX, and up to 20 members of Congress.
Court papers in that case said that beginning in June 2000, Abramoff provided things of value, including 10 equal monthly payments totaling $50,000, on behalf of clients eager to influence legislation involving Internet gambling or to oppose postal rate increases. The payments were made through a nonprofit entity to the wife of a congressional aide who has been identified as Tony Rudy, DeLay's deputy chief of staff at the time.
Chris Giglio, vice president at Rubenstein Associates Inc., a public relations firm speaking for the Magazine Publishers of America, said in January that the MPA donated $25,000 to Toward Tradition, a nonprofit alliance of Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians. In March 2000, the MPA hired Preston Gates Ellis Rouvelas & Meeds LLP, for which Abramoff worked at the time, to spearhead a $10 million, three-year campaign to fight a proposed 15 percent postal rate increase for Periodicals mail and to push for postal reform. MPA officials have denied knowledge of how the money donated was used.
Investigators are now concentrating more on Abramoff's lobbying for Indian tribes, according to wire reports.