Despite death, Murtha probe continues

FBI investigates link to defense kickbacks

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The FBI investigation into allegations of kickbacks involving defense contractors and Rep. John P. Murtha remains open despite the death in February of the Pennsylvania Democratic congressman, government records show.

The FBI released hundreds of pages of documents concerning Murtha on Tuesday in response to open records requests, but kept sealed most of its files on the corruption probe that had dogged Murtha until his death.

“As this investigative file is still in ‘pending status,’ the bulk of the file’s FBI documents are not releasable until the conclusion of the investigation,” the FBI said in releasing the documents on its website.

Murtha’s name had surfaced repeatedly in connection with the ongoing federal probe into defense contractors who gave him and other members of Congress campaign donations.

In late 2008, the FBI raided the PMA Group, a lobbying firm with ties to Murtha. The now-defunct firm lobbied for companies that won federal funding through earmarks, or special spending requests, made by Murtha and other members of Congress.

Employees at the PMA Group and the firm’s clients also donated tens of thousands of dollars during the 2008 election, in which Murtha fended off a challenge by Republican William Russell to win an 18th term in the House.

The PMA Group was founded by Paul Magliocchetti, who is reportedly a focal point in the federal investigation into whether he made illegal campaign contributions by reimbursing “straw donors,” who in turn made contributions in their names to his favored candidates.

Mr. Magliocchetti is a one-time congressional staffer who worked with Murtha on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee in the 1980s.

PMA was one of the 10 top-grossing lobbying firms in Washington before it imploded after federal agents raided it and Mr. Magliocchetti’s home in November 2008.

The Washington Times, among others, filed a request for FBI documents mentioning Murtha under the Freedom of Information Act after his death at age 77.

As Pennsylvania’s longest serving congressman, Murtha was a long-serving member of the powerful House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

He also was considered a “subject of interest” in the FBI’s undercover ABSCAM case in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Murtha was a target in the investigation and was offered a bribe, but the FBI did not release the video of the meeting in the batch of documents it released.

The FBI records show that Murtha was contacted on several occasions and that in response to a bribe offer, “Rep. Murtha stated he would get back in touch with the offerer.

“Rep. Murtha never recontacted the offerer, and later testified for the government,” one of the newly unsealed FBI files states.

Other records made public show several death threats were made against Murtha over his career. One threat involved a 43-page e-mail calling for his assassination by a suspect who already was on probation for previously threatening Murtha.

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