MIAMI (AP) — A former business partner of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty yesterday to fraud and conspiracy in the ill-fated 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats.
Adam Kidan’s plea bargain is likely to require that he cooperate in the case against Mr. Abramoff involving the SunCruz Casinos deal and perhaps even testify against his old partner.
Kidan pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud; four other felony counts were dropped. He could get up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing March 1.
Kidan declined to speak with reporters after the hearing, though his attorney, Joseph Conway, described him as “happy” with the outcome.
Mr. Abramoff and Kidan were indicted in August on charges of conspiracy and fraud for reputedly concocting a fake $23 million wire transfer to make it appear they were putting a significant portion of their own money into the $147.5 million SunCruz deal. Two lenders agreed to provide $60 million in financing for the SunCruz purchase based on that false wire transfer, according to prosecutors.
Mr. Abramoff has claimed in court papers that Kidan was to blame for any irregularities in the deal and that he found out about it only later. Mr. Abramoff is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 9.
“We’ll have to see what impact it has, if any,” said Mr. Abramoff’s attorney, Neal Sonnett, regarding Kidan’s plea.
Mr. Abramoff, a top Republican fundraiser and lobbyist, is also being investigated in Washington on suspicion of defrauding his Indian tribe clients of millions of dollars and using improper influence on members of Congress.
Kidan and Mr. Abramoff bought SunCruz from founder Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis, who was slain in 2001 in a gangland-style hit while driving his luxury car in Fort Lauderdale. Investigators say Mr. Boulis and Kidan were embroiled in a battle for control of SunCruz; Kidan has denied any involvement in Mr. Boulis’ death.
Three men were arrested in September on murder charges in Mr. Boulis’ killing and are awaiting trial.
Kidan’s guilty plea comes after another of Mr. Abramoff’s former associates, Michael Scanlon, agreed to cooperate in the SunCruz case as part of a plea agreement in a separate federal case in Washington.
Scanlon said he helped Mr. Abramoff and Kidan buy SunCruz by persuading Rep. Bob Ney, Ohio Republican, to insert comments into the Congressional Record that were “calculated to pressure the then-owner to sell on terms favorable” to Mr. Abramoff and Kidan.