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Ex-Ohio congressman gets 30 months

Ex-Ohio congressman gets 30 months

By Joel Havemann
Times Staff Writer

10:58 AM PST, January 19, 2007

WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) today became the second onetime member of the House of Representatives to draw a prison term for his role in the lobbying scandals that helped doom the Republican's majority in Congress in November's elections.

Ney, 52, was sentenced to 30 months in jail, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and was fined $6,000. U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ordered Ney to perform 200 hours of community service. She also recommended that Ney enter a prison alcohol rehabilitation program for an admitted drinking problem.

"You violated a host of laws that you, as a congressman, are sworn to enforce and uphold," Huvelle told Ney.

In brief remarks to the judge, Ney apologized to his family and constituents. "I will continue to take full responsibility, accept the consequence and battle the demons of addiction that are within me," he said.

Ney pleaded guilty in October to two counts of conspiracy to commit multiple offenses involving the use of his elected office for corrupt purposes. Co-conspirators in Ney's case included lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Ney's former chief of staff and two aides to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), all of whom have pleaded guilty in the investigation.

Ney admitted soliciting and accepting bribes from Abramoff and his lobbying staff. In return, Ney opposed specific legislation and supported an application for a contract to install the basis for a wireless telephone network in the House. Among the items that he accepted were a golfing trip to Scotland and thousands of dollars in casino gambling chips.

"Today's sentence makes it clear that our government is not for sale," said Assistant Atty. Alice S. Fisher, who heads the Justice Department's criminal division.

Ney is the second member of the 2005-2006 Congress to land in jail. In a separate case, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe) is serving an eight-year sentence for bribery and tax evasion.

Ney, who served six two-year House terms, will be eligible to draw a congressional pension of about $29,000 a year if he waits until he is 62, the National Taxpayers Union estimates.

A wide-ranging ethics bill passed by the Senate on Thursday and sent to the House would deny pensions for members of Congress convicted of felonies in the future. The bill would not affect Ney.

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