Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Abramoff Sentencing: Round One

Former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff will receive his first criminal sentence under his plea agreement on bank fraud charges in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.  Abramoff and co-defendant Adam Kidan pled guilty to charges related to their purchase of SunCruz Casinos in 2000 in which they lied to banks in connection with obtaining $60 million in loans for the transaction.  U.S. District Judge Paul Huck refused requests by the government and Abramoff to postpone the sentencing until after he completed his cooperation in the Congressional  corruption investigation in Washington, D.C., where Abramoff entered a guilty plea to a second set of charges related to corruption involving a Congressman and staffers.

A Miami Herald article (here) discusses the many letters submitted to the court on Abramoff's behalf that paint him as a sympathetic figure deserving of the reduced sentence.  The sentencing memorandum submitted by defense counsel (here) goes to great lengths (62 pages) to put Abramoff in the most positive light, although his plea agreement does not permit him to seek a downward departure and there is a stipulated Sentencing Guidelines range of seven to ten years, so his initial prison term will fall somewhere in there.  His lawyers argue for a sentence at the bottom of that range, and acknowledge that his cooperation in the continuing investigation likely will result in a Rule 35 motion by prosecutors down the road for a sentence reduction.

One sentence in the defense brief, which does a very good job of presenting Abramoff as deserving of a minimum sentence, caught my eye.  The brief states, "There also is no chance the crime will be repeated."  I certainly hope not, because Abramoff misused his clients' money for himself and to corrupt officeholders and their staff.  I hope he does not have the opportunity to commit crimes like this again, although American politics is full of second-chances. (ph)

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