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Ex-Bush official receives 18 month prison sentence

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Published: Friday October 27, 2006

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A former Bush administration official, David Safavian, has received an 18 month prison sentence for obstructing justice in connection with the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, Reuters is reporting.

Prosecutors had been seeking a 30 to 37 month sentence.

Safavian, 39, who resigned from his job last year on the same day that the criminal complaint was signed, once worked at the General Services Administration and the White House budget office.

"Safavian was sentenced on four counts less than two weeks before elections in which the scandal and other corruptions charges have endangered Republican control of Congress," Reuters reports.

Safavian wept when he pleaded for leniency before sentencing and claimed that "Abramoff manipulated him and drew him into the scandal," Matt Apuzzo reports for the Associated Press.

"Yes, Jack Abramoff was a friend, but he wasn't my co-conspirator and I wasn't his," Safavian said. "There was no conspiracy to defraud anyone, least of all the taxpayers."

Excerpts from the Associated Press article:

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Abramoff is cooperating with an FBI corruption investigation into Congress and the White House. He has admitted using gifts to influence lawmakers.

The investigation snared its first congressman this month when Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty to covering up expensive gifts and trips from Abramoff. He admitted taking trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff in return for official actions on behalf of his clients.

Two former aides to Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, have also pleaded guilty, as has Ney's former chief of staff.

Additionally, Roger Stillwell, a former Interior Department official, pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting tickets he received from Abramoff.

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