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Ex-lobbyist wants records made public to expose plea deals in Jack Abramoff case
With time running out before he’s set to report to federal prison, former lobbyist Kevin Ring wants a federal judge to unseal records in his Jack Abramoff scandal case to shine a light on the hidden workings of how prosecutors cut plea deals.
One of nearly two dozen charged in the Abramoff case, Ring is set to surrender at an undisclosed prison sometime on or after Jan. 2, after the Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal.
Ring, an associate of Mr. Abramoff and a former congressional staffer, was found guilty of bribery and was sentenced to 20 months in prison for giving sports tickets and other gifts to public officials.
Mr. Abramoff, once one of the most well-connected lobbyists in Washington, pleaded guilty and served 43 months on bribery and other tax charges before he was released in December of 2010.
Among the nearly two dozen defendants in the Abramoff scandal, only Ring fought the charges and went to trial, while others cut plea deals and cooperated with the government.
With Ring having exhausted his appeals and set to report to prison, his lawyer is asking federal judge in Washington to unseal portions of a PowerPoint presentation used by prosecutors in a proffer session before Ring’s indictment.
The contents of that presentation aren’t divulged in the legal motion, but language in the filing suggests it’s likely to underscore the varied sentences awaiting defendants who go to trial compared to those who accept plea deals.
“Release of this information would provide a considerable benefit, by bringing greater transparency to, and public scrutiny of, the daily workings of the criminal charging, plea and sentencing processes,” Ring’s attorney, Andrew Wise, wrote in the motion, which was filed on Monday.
Mr. Wise wrote that criminal justice reform groups are studying “the premium the government seeks to extract” from individuals who go to trial, but he added that court records that might add to the discussion are kept from public scrutiny.
“The unsealing is sought so that relevant portions of the PowerPoint can be provided to public interest groups, legal academics and others in order to educate the public about how pleas and charging decisions work and how prosecutors’ actions can affect the criminal justice process,” Mr. Wise wrote.
Prosecutors haven’t yet filed a response to the motion.
Meanwhile, it’s up to the Bureau of Prisons to decide where to have Ring serve his sentence, but his sentencing judge has recommended federal prison camps in Maryland, Virginia or New Jersey, according to court papers.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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