Addict (drugaddict) wrote,
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Some days Bob will go to as many as three recovery meetings

Matthew D. Parker, a former aide and friend, said that Ney began to drink more heavily in 2004 when he first came under federal scrutiny for his relationship with Abramoff. "Bob was a functioning alcoholic who could rarely make it through the day without drinking and would often begin drinking beers as early as 7:30 a.m.," Parker said.

Some days Bob will go to as many as three recovery meetings

Ex-Ohio Rep. Ney Sentenced to 30 Months

By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 19, 2007; 2:40 PM

 

A federal judge today ordered former Congressman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) to serve 30 months in prison for accepting gifts, favors and campaign contributions in exchange for official actions, making the six-term congressman the first elected official to be sent to prison in the influence-peddling investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff's activities.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle rejected the recommendations of both prosecutors, who asked for a 27-month term, and Ney's lawyers, who sought leniency. Instead, Huvelle doled out a slightly tougher 2 1/2 -year sentence because, she said, Ney had "seriously betrayed the public's trust."

Huvelle told Ney: "You have a long way to go to make amends for what's happened."

The former chairman of the powerful House Administration Committee, Ney, 52, pleaded guilty in October to one count each of conspiracy and making false statements. He admitted using his elected office to perform official acts in exchange for a series of gifts, including a lavish golf trip to Scotland, skybox tickets to sporting events, meals at lobbyist Abramoff's pricey downtown restaurant and campaign contributions from Abramoff and his clients.

The judge also ordered Ney to serve two years probation and perform community service after his release from federal prison and pay a $6,000 fine.

"Both your constituents and the public trusted you to represent them honestly," Huvelle said.

Ney, whose attorneys last fall said he was beginning treatment for alcohol dependence, apologized to his family, friends and constituents during brief comments in open court.

"I will continue to take full responsibility, accept the consequences and battle the demons of addiction that are within me," Ney said.

Alice S. Fisher, assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, echoed the federal judge, saying Ney abused the public trust. "Today's sentence makes it clear that our government is not for sale," Fisher said.

Huvelle granted a request of defense attorneys that she recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that Ney be sent to a federal prison in Morgantown , W. Va., where he could participate in an alcohol rehabilitation program.

Ney's attorneys submitted 95 pages of letters from supporters as part of their request that Ney be placed in a residential alcohol treatment program. Ney's primary physician, Dr. Renato F. Dela Cruz, stated that he had urged the congressman to reduce his use of alcohol, which the doctor said had increased since 2001.

Matthew D. Parker, a former aide and friend, said that Ney began to drink more heavily in 2004 when he first came under federal scrutiny for his relationship with Abramoff. "Bob was a functioning alcoholic who could rarely make it through the day without drinking and would often begin drinking beers as early as 7:30 a.m.," Parker said.

Now, Parker said, "Some days Bob will go to as many as three recovery meetings."

Ney, who had been a target of the investigation since 2004, came under increasing pressure one year ago with Abramoff's guilty plea and agreement to cooperate in the investigation. The investigation tightened again in May 2006 when his former chief of staff, Neil Volz, pleaded guilty to corruptly influencing the congressman and others. Volz went to work for Abramoff as a lobbyist after he left Ney's congressional staff.

In November, Abramoff, 47, began serving a sentence of five years and 10 months at a minimum-security prison camp in Cumberland, Md., for defrauding banks of $23 million in his purchase of a Florida casino cruise line six years ago. Abramoff has also pleaded guilty in Washington to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. He is to be sentenced in that case later this year.

The gifts Ney accepted from Abramoff included vacations that prosecutors valued at more than $170,000. In return, Ney sought to insert four amendments into a 2002 election-overhaul bill to benefit Abramoff's clients. Ney also admitted helping another client win a multimillion-dollar contract to provide wireless communication services to the U.S. Capitol.

In addition, the Ohio congressman twice inserted comments in the Congressional Record aimed at bolstering a bid by Abramoff to buy the Florida casino company.

Along with the Abramoff ties, Ney admitted to accepting free airfare, luxury accommodations and thousands of dollars' worth of gambling chips in 2003 from a foreign businessman, who was not identified in the court papers but has previously been named by Ney attorney Mark H. Tuohey as Fouad al-Zayat.

A high-rolling denizen of London's gambling clubs, Zayat is known in England by his nickname, "The Fat Man," and has been described in British media as a Syrian-born arms middleman. Zayat sought Ney's help in getting a visa and an exemption to a U.S. law that bars the sale of airplane parts to another country.

A federal task force that includes a dozen Justice Department prosecutors is continuing to investigate Abramoff's dealings with other congressional offices, including those of Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) and former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), according to lawyers and witnesses involved in the probe. Federal prosecutors also have notified the former No. 2 official at the Department of Interior, J. Steven Griles, that he is a target in the corruption investigation, people knowledgeable about the matter said.

Another former Interior Department employee was sentenced this month to two years probation and fined $1,000 for failing to report gifts that he received from Abramoff. Roger G. Stillwell accepted hundreds of dollars worth of football and concert tickets from Abramoff, who at the time was lobbying for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Stillwell worked in the Interior Department's Insular Affairs Office, which handles issues involving the island government.

Ney is one of eight people convicted in the continuing federal investigation into Abramoff's activities. In addition to Abramoff, Ney aide Volz and Interior official Stillwell, those convicted include Michael Scanlon and Tony Rudy, both former congressional aides to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.); Adam Kidan, a former Abramoff business partner; and David Safavian, a former White House procurement official.

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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