4/29/2006 

Prosecutors Opt for Wide Probe of Rep. Ney

Washington Post, April 29, 2006:
Federal prosecutors signaled this week that they have decided to pursue a wide range of allegations about dealings between Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, rather than bringing a narrowly focused bribery case against the congressman.

[...]

Court papers filed in recent months show that prosecutors have lined up at least four cooperating witnesses against the Ohio congressman: Abramoff, former congressional aides Michael Scanlon and Tony C. Rudy, and businessman Adam Kidan. All have pleaded guilty to various conspiracy, fraud or public corruption charges.

The court filings that accompanied the plea agreements of Abramoff, Scanlon and Rudy accused Ney of accepting "a stream of things of value" in exchange for official actions.

Prosecutors signaled their intentions with Ney by identifying him as "Representative #1" in pleadings filed with the court. In October, Ney was formally notified that he was under criminal investigation, and at the prosecutors' request he agreed to extend the five-year statute of limitations for six months while they investigated possible bribery charges.

Ney's actions involving the cruise line could still expose him to criminal liability if the government brings a conspiracy case against him, legal analysts said. In that instance, the statute of limitations is pegged to the date of the last alleged criminal act in a chain, not the first.

Ney's involvement with the cruise line took place in 2000, when Abramoff and partners Kidan and Ben Waldman were in difficult negotiations to buy SunCruz Casinos from Fort Lauderdale businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis. Ney placed comments in the Congressional Record that year that first put pressure on Boulis to sell to the Abramoff group, and later praised the new owners as Boulis was complaining he had been cheated in the sale.

Boulis was killed in a gangland-style hit in early 2001. Three men with ties to Kidan and to the Gambino crime family face murder charges in the slaying.

Ney was also involved with Abramoff and his lobbying team on other issues under federal investigation. In 2002, Ney sponsored legislation at the team's request to reopen a casino for a Texas Indian tribe that Abramoff represented, and approved a 2002 license for an Abramoff client to wire the House of Representatives for mobile phone service.

At the same time, Ney accepted many favors from Abramoff, among them campaign contributions, dinners at the lobbyist's downtown restaurant, skybox fundraisers -- including one at his then-MCI Center box the month after Boulis's murder -- and a lavish golf junket to Scotland in August 2002.

Ney was directly implicated by three of the four who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges: Abramoff, Scanlon and Rudy. Kidan's attorney said his client also would testify against Ney if asked.

The allegations against Ney have taken a toll on his political career and his prospects for reelection.

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4/21/2006 

Court filing in case of indicted Bush official suggests Ohio congressman provided false report to Congress

Raw Story, April 21, 2006:
A pre-trial motion filed by federal prosecutors in the case of indicted former Bush Administration official David Safavian contends that his share of the costs in a trip to play golf in Scotland and England arranged by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff should have been nearly five times more than what he paid, RAW STORY has found.

Perhaps more significantly, however, it also provides the first formal evidence that powerful Ohio Republican Bob Ney – then chairman of the House Administration Committee – provided false figures for the cost of his own trip to Scotland. Ney has been under fire for his role in allegedly helping Abramoff aid his clients in violation of House ethics rules and possibly federal laws.

[...]

In addition to likely misreporting its true cost, Ney also listed the sponsor of the trip as the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative thinktank. It later emerged that the trip was paid for by Abramoff’s Capital Athletic Foundation. Members of Congress are prohibited from taking trips paid for by lobbyists.

Ney also appears to have lied about the purpose of the trip. "In April, 2002, I was approached by Mr. Abramoff, who I believed to be a respected member of the community, and asked to go on a trip to Scotland which Mr. Abramoff said would help support a charitable organization, that he founded, through meetings he organized with Scottish Parliament officials," Ney said in a statement last November.

In his financial disclosure report to Congress, Ney listed "speech to Scottish Parliamentarians" as a purpose of the trip. Newsweek's Michael Isikoff later revealed that there was no record of Ney’s speech and that the Scottish parliament was away on recess during the time of the junket.

On September 9, 2002, a month after returning from the trip, Ney filed a form with the Clerk of the House of the Representatives which indicated that his share of the trip was $3200. He reported $1,500 for travel, $1,200 for lodging and $500 for meal expenses.

According to the prosecutors’ estimate, Ney likely should have reported the trip at $15,000. Ney's office did not respond to a call placed for comment Friday.

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House candidates report campaign cash

Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 21, 2006:
GOP Rep. Bob Ney raised campaign cash at a Colorado ski lodge and spent most of it on legal bills.

[...]

More than two-thirds of the $142,418 that Licking County GOP Rep. Bob Ney raised for his re-election this year was paid to the lawyer defending him in a Justice Department corruption probe. Ney had more than $474,000 in the bank after paying his attorney $96,500.
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4/03/2006 

Ex-DeLay Aide Pleads Guilty in Lobby Case

Washington Post, April 1, 2006:
Tony C. Rudy, a former deputy chief of staff to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), pleaded guilty yesterday to charges that he conspired with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to corrupt public officials and defraud his clients, as a burgeoning corruption probe took one step closer to members of Congress.

Rudy admitted taking favors including money, meals, trips and tickets to sporting events from Abramoff in exchange for official acts that included influencing legislation to help the lobbyist's clients.

Rudy's plea follows guilty pleas from DeLay's former press secretary, Michael Scanlon, and from Abramoff himself. But, for the first time, an actor in the scandal has admitted to committing illegal acts while working in the Republican leadership suites of the House.

[...]

Like Abramoff's plea, Rudy's statement to the court levels some of its toughest charges on a "Representative #1," identified elsewhere as Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio). Abramoff and Rudy lavished golf trips, tickets to sporting events and concerts, and food and drink on Ney. In turn, Ney "agreed to take favorable official action and render other assistance on behalf of the clients of Abramoff and Rudy," court papers say. Ney has denied wrongdoing.
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