January 03, 2006

Prominent US lobbyist pleads guilty.

Jack Abramoff, a prominent lobbyist in the U.S. capital, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three federal charges and agreed to cooperate in a corruption investigation that could implicate a number of lawmakers. Top Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, admitted conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion, in a plea deal which could lift the lid on one of the most explosive US political corruption cases in decades. Abramoff pleaded guilty to all the three charges, which included conspiracy to commit fraud, tax evasion and mail fraud. If convicted, Abramoff could face 30 years in jail. The corruption investigation could involve as many as 20 members of Congress, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Republican lawmaker who was forced to quit the leadership post last September in an unrelated case. Abramoff was also expected to plead guilty in Florida to two of the six charges in a federal indictment. During a court appearance, Abramoff agreed with federal judge Ellen Huvelle that he had engaged in a conspiracy involving corruption of public officials and that he and others had engaged in a plot to provide campaign contributions, trips and other items in exchange for certain official acts. Abramoff and his lobbying partner, Michael Scanlon, who pleaded guilty in November last year, were accused by prosecutors of conspiring to defraud Indian tribes in Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Texas of millions of dollars. A number of lawmakers from both parties received campaign donations and other favorites from Abramoff, and voted in Congress in favor of the lobbyist's clients, news reports said. The Bush administration's former chief procurement official, David H. Safavian, was charged last year with making false statements and obstructing investigations in the Abramoff case. Enditem