Once-powerful lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud, agreeing to cooperate in an influence-peddling investigation that threatens powerful members of Congress.
In a heavily scripted court appearance, Abramoff agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle when she said he had engaged in a conspiracy involving “corruption of public officials.” The lobbyist also agreed when she said he and others had engaged in a scheme to provide campaign contributions, trips and other items “in exchange for certain official acts.”
“Words will not ever be able to express my sorrow and my profound regret for all my actions and mistakes,” Abramoff said, addressing the judge. “I hope I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and those I’ve wronged or caused to suffer.”
To each of the three charges, Abramoff said, “I plead guilty, your honor.” Huvelle and lawyers in the case referred to restitution possibly reaching $25 million in the case. As is typically the case in such pleadings, what happened in the courtroom Tuesday was arranged in advance between lawyers for the defendant and the prosecutors.
Abramoff faces 30 years in prison, and he will cooperate with federal prosecutors in a wide-ranging corruption investigation that is believed to be focusing on as many as 20 members of Congress and aides.