March 24, 2007
Another Official Snared in Abramoff's Web
Former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff spread himself around Washington D.C., and those contacts resulted in yet another official entering a guilty plea arising from their relationship. Former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles entered a guilty plea to one count of obstruction of justice for lying to a Senate committee investigating Abramoff's lobbying activities. Griles, the highest-ranking Administration official caught up in the Abramoff web, admitted that he did not tell the truth when he said his relationship with the lobbyist was not "unique" when in fact his girlfriend introduced them, giving Abramoff an in to Griles to lobby for clients. According to an AP story (here), at one time prosecutors threatened other charges against Griles, including honest services fraud and criminal conflict of interest. Under the plea agreement, Griles will receive a ten-month sentence, half of which will be served in prison.
Abramoff has been cooperating in the ongoing corruption investigation while serving his 5+ year prison term, but that time may be shortened soon. Federal prosecutors have filed a Rule 35 motion for a reduction of his sentence due to substantial assistance. It is not clear whether any more defendants will be charged, and it may be that the so-called "low hanging fruit" has been picked in the case. Whether anyone else on Capitol Hill or in the Administration will face charges remains to be seen, and Abramoff certainly carries some heavy baggage as a witness. An MSNBC story (here) discusses the sentence reduction motion. (ph)
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