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Judge Huvelle, a 1999 appointee of President Clinton’s, said gifts from lobbyists to public officials are permissible if their purpose is to gain access or cultivate a relationship, but gifts are illegal if their purpose is to encourage the public official to do something corrupt. The key issue, she said, was intent.

In addition to the case’s complexity, prosecutors had to overcome other difficulties before winning convictions against Ring.

First, the Supreme Court earlier this year narrowed the scope of key anti-corruption law - the often-charged honest-services fraud - ostensibly making it more difficult to win convictions on six of the eight charges Ring faced. Ring’s attorneys asked the judge to dismiss the case in light of the Supreme Court ruling, but she declined.

Then, on the eve of trial, a witness whom the judge called the prosecution’s “strongest” recanted. John Albaugh, former chief of staff to Rep. Ernest Istook, Oklahoma Republican, said he no longer thought he gave favors to Abramoff clients in exchange for free meals and tickets.

Ring was the second to last remaining defendant in the Abramoff scandal; Fraser Verrusio, former aide to Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican, still faces charges of accepting free tickets to the 2003 World Series from Abramoff associates. Mr. Verrusio was indicted in 2009. No one else has been charged since.

Ring also is one of only two to take their case to trial. Friends say that decision cost him as much as $2.5 million in legal fees.

The Abramoff scandal targeted 20 people, nearly all of whom pleaded guilty or were convicted, including Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in 2006 and is serving the end of a four-year sentence on home detention while working at a Baltimore pizzeria.

But the investigation was not without its hiccups. Justice agreed earlier this year to allow a former high-level Labor Department political appointee during the Bush administration to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and receive probation after the case against him began to unravel.

Horace M. Cooper was charged with taking thousands of dollars in gifts from Abramoff and faced 40 years. However, prosecutors dropped all but one of the charges after Judge Huvelle called the case “troubling” and asked them to produce more details about the charges.

The department also chose not to seek charges against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Texas Republican who had been the highest-profile and most powerful target of the Abramoff investigation.