03 January 2006

Hit the Road, Jack

But I hope you’ll put in a few kind words for your friends
before you go.

WASHINGTON - Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist
who spawned a congressional corruption
scandal, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three felonies
and pledged to cooperate in a criminal probe
edging closer to former House Majority Leader
Tom DeLay.

"I plead guilty, your honor," Abramoff said in
flat, unemotional tones, accepting a plea
bargain that said he had provided lavish trips,
golf outings, meals and more to public officials
"in exchange for a series of official acts."

In one case, he reported payments totaling
$50,000 to the wife of a congressional aide to
help block legislation for a client. The aide
worked for DeLay, according to officials who
spoke on condition of anonymity.

Public corruption aside, Abramoff admitted
defrauding four Indian tribes and other clients,
taking millions in kickbacks from a one-time
business partner, misusing a charity he had
established and failing to pay income taxes on
millions of ill-gotten gains.

He is expected to plead guilty to additional
charges on Wednesday in Florida in connection
with charges stemming from the 2000 purchase
of a fleet of gambling boats.

At the Justice Department, officials said they
intend to make use of the trove of e-mails and
other material in Abramoff's possession as part
of a probe that is believed to be focusing on as
many as 20 members of Congress and aides.

"This investigation continues ... however long
it takes, wherever it leads," said Alice Fisher,
assistant attorney general.