- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

11:15 a.m.

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — Disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff has arrived at a prison in Western Maryland to begin serving his sentence.

A prison representative issued a brief written statement this morning saying Abramoff arrived at 6:30 a.m. at the federal prison camp near Cumberland.

The camp is a 334-bed minimum-security facility near an industrial park along the North Branch of the Potomac River.

Abramoff is to serve 70 months in prison for a fraudulent deal to buy a fleet of casino ships in Florida.

He originally was assigned to a federal prison in Pennsylvania about four hours away from Washington. Prosecutors wanted him assigned to the prison in Cumberland, about two hours away.

Abramoff, who made a name for himself on Capitol Hill by lavishing politicians with football tickets or whisking them away on faraway golf junkets, became the face of government corruption and contributed to the Republican Party’s Election Day defeats nationwide.

Abramoff enjoyed access and influence across Capitol Hill, from his close ties to members of Congress to his hundreds of contacts with White House officials.

He kept his powerful friends flush with campaign cash, gifts and trips such as a $92,000 chartered jet to Scotland for a golf outing with Rep. Bob Ney, Bush administration official David Safavian and congressional aides.

Ney, an Ohio Republican who recently resigned, became the first member of Congress convicted in the case when he admitted last month that he took official actions on behalf of Abramoff’s clients in exchange for his gifts and campaign donations.

The investigation already had ensnared Ney’s former chief of staff and two aides to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican.

The investigation cost Mr. DeLay his leadership seat before he ultimately resigned, and it contributed to the Election Day defeat of Sen. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican.

Safavian was sentenced in October to 18 months in prison for lying to investigators about his ties to Abramoff. He is asking a federal judge to postpone his sentence until he can appeal his conviction.

Mr. Burns, who received about $150,000 in Abramoff-related donations and whose aides traveled on the lobbyist’s jet to the 2001 Super Bowl, has denied any wrongdoing.

Though two of Mr. DeLay’s aides have pleaded guilty, the former majority leader maintains his innocence and has not been charged.

Also under scrutiny are Rep. John Doolittle, California Republican, who accepted campaign money from Abramoff and used the lobbyist’s luxury sports box for a fundraiser without initially reporting it, and former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles, who senators and a former colleague said gave preferential treatment to Abramoff and his Indian tribe clients.

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