Ex-Abramoff lobbyist jailed for 20 months
WASHINGTON — A former US lobbyist was sentenced to 20 months behind bars Wednesday for his role in a multi-million-dollar inducements scandal that brought down disgraced Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Kevin Ring, who worked with Abramoff, was convicted for his role in a scheme to corrupt public officials by illegally providing vacations, employment for a congressman’s wife, meals, drinks and high-priced tickets to exclusive events.
He was also sentenced by a judge in the US capital Washington to 30 months of supervised release following his prison term, in a ruling that capped years of litigation.
A jury convicted Ring in November on one count of conspiring to corrupt congressional and executive branch officials by providing valuables to them and their staff members in order to induce or reward those who took official actions benefiting the 41-year-old and his clients.
“These things of value included all-expenses-paid travel, meals, drinks, golf outings, tickets to professional sporting events, concerts and other events,” the US Justice Department said in a statement.
Evidence at the trial also found that Ring supervised the conspiracy in which public officials were “groomed” for financial benefit.
In one e-mail message, Ring instructed his co-conspirators to “thank your friends on the Hill and in the administration. In fact, thank them over and over again this week — preferably for long periods of time and at expensive establishments,” according to evidence presented in court.
In another email, Ring told a co-conspiring public official: “You are going to eat free off our clients. Need to get us some [appropriations] money.”
He was said to have sought $14 million in congressional transportation appropriations and an additional $7 million from the Department of Justice to build a jail.
Ring has also been charged with two other counts of obstructing justice stemming from his alleged efforts to hamper criminal and congressional investigations that could reveal his criminal conduct to federal authorities.
The court has severed those counts and Ring is due in court to answer them at a later date.
Some 20 lobbyists, public officials and others have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial so far in connection with the investigation into Abramoff and his associates.
Abramoff became one of Washington’s leading lobbyists during the Republican rise to power in Congress in the 1990s, and expanded his influence when George W. Bush was elected to the White House.
He pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services fraud and tax evasion, and was sentenced to four years in prison in September 2008.
Abramoff’s pleas helped force from their jobs two lawmakers, several top Congressional aides and a senior Bush administration official, and contributed to the Republican Party losing control of Congress in 2006.