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Former Aide to Rep. Ney Pleads Guilty

Washington Post, May 8, 2006:
A former congressional aide and business associate of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty Monday to charges in connection with the investigation of influence-peddling and public corruption.

Neil Volz, who served as chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, including wire fraud and violating House rules, charges stemming from his work on Capitol Hill and the lobbying practice he joined after leaving Ney's office.

He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The penalties could vary, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said, depending how helpful Volz is in the government's ongoing investigation of influence-peddling involving lawmakers, their aides and members of the Bush administration.

"The purpose of the conspiracy was for defendant Volz and his co-conspirators to unjustly enrich themselves by corruptly receiving, while public officials, and providing, while lobbyists, a stream of things of value with the intent to influence and reward official acts and attempting to influence members of Congress in violation of the law," according to a criminal information filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Two former aides to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, the former House Majority Leader, already have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy that was centered on the work of Abramoff, once a powerful Republican lobbyist.

Ney has not been charged, but his lawyer has acknowledged that he is Representative 1, described in court papers as the recipient of gifts and travel from Abramoff.

Shortly after leaving Ney's office, Volz joined Abramoff's firm and did lobbying work less than a year after leaving government employment. Federal law requires congressional staff members to wait a year before they do private work involving the previous government employer.

Among the projects on which Volz worked was securing a lucrative contract for Foxcom Wireless, an Israeli communications company, to improve cell phone reception in House office buildings.

Also during that period, Volz pressed Ney to support projects by the firm's Indian tribe clients.

Read the plea agreement.