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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Abramoff Plea Deal Reached

The NYTimes is reporting on the details of the Abramoff plea deal. According to Anne Kornblut, Abramoff will plead guilty to three counts in the DC phase of the investigation -- public corruption, fraud, and tax evasion -- resulting in a maximum exposure of about 10 years in federal prison. The plea deal should be announced today and, according to the article, Abramoff will enter a guilty plea today in DC.

In the Miami phase of the negotiations, there will be a separate plea announced for a plea of guilty to fraud and conspiracy for his SunCruz involvement. He will face a maximum exposure of around 7 years in that case, according to the NYTimes.
Mr. Abramoff has been talking to investigators in the corruption case for many months, participants in the case said, giving them a full picture of what evidence he could offer against other suspects. His participation in Washington has taken place mostly below the radar, as prosecutors made the Miami case the focus of their public work and as Mr. Abramoff and his associates claimed they were preparing to stand trial, facing up to as many as 30 years in prison.

Mr. Abramoff will enter separate pleas in both locations. But the deal reached with the Justice Department is all-encompassing, reducing the severe penalties Mr. Abramoff could have faced in either investigation, in exchange for his inside knowledge of certain lobbying work and legislative actions. One element of the deal is that any he can serve prison time in the two cases concurrently, although the sentencing will not take place until much further along in the investigation.
What this means is that Jackie Boy has agreed to offer substantial cooperation, in the form of information, evidence and testimony against members of Congress, staffers and others involved in these schemes. The DoJ will hold that promise of cooperation over him and will withhold any sentencing in the matter until that cooperation has been completed. If he cooperates fully and gives meaningful evidence and testimony, the DoJ will make a favorable sentencing recommendation. If Abramoff tries to weasel out of the deal, the recommendation will not be so favorable.

One pressure point will likely be whether or not the sentences will ultimately run consecutively (back to back, for a total exposure of around 17 years) or concurrently (at the same time, for a maximum exposure of 10 years). That's a huge difference, and the level of cooperation given by Abramoff will be key on what recommendation the DoJ attorneys make. The deal is for concurrent sentences -- but if Jack doesn't live up to his end of the bargain, that isn't set in stone. (In my experience, if he's getting a concurrent deal, he's brought some documentary evidence and a whole lot of information to the table. Jack's been spilling a lot of beans.)

They will not set a date for sentencing until well into the prosecution of related cases -- usually sentencing is not done until the bulk of cooperation (if not all of it) has been completed, so that this hangs over the head of the defendant as a pressure point to force complete testimony.

Now, on to the naming of names. Hmmmm...I'd like to hear DeLay...

(Hat tip to reader Wilson46201 for the link. Picture courtesy of Mother Jones.)