- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kevin A. Ring, the former “Team Abramoff” lobbyist who decided to fight the government in its influence-peddling investigation and was convicted Monday on five felony counts, is facing a lengthy prison sentence when he appears before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle on March 1.

Justice Department officials said Ring, one of only two targeted in the probe to take the case to trial, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy, two years for payment of an illegal gratuity and 20 years for each of the three counts of honest-services wire fraud.

He also could be assessed a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

Federal sentencing guidelines almost certainly will reduce the sentences.

The guidelines take into account the charges as well as the person’s background to fashion an appropriate sentence.

The jury found Ring guilty on one count of conspiring to corrupt congressional and executive branch officials by providing things of value to them and their staffs to induce or reward those who took official actions benefiting Ring and his clients.

In addition, Ring was convicted of one count of paying a gratuity to a public official and three counts of honest-services wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to deprive U.S. citizens of their right to the honest services of certain public officials.

The jury acquitted Ring on three counts of honest-services fraud. A previous federal jury failed to reach a verdict in the case, and the court declared a mistrial.

“Through the talent and hard work of prosecutors from the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity and Fraud Sections, another member of ‘Team Abramoff’ has been held accountable for his actions,” said Mythili Raman, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the department’s Criminal Division.

“For years, this team of lobbyists schemed to corrupt public officials, and, because of their actions, Americans were denied the honest services of public servants.”

Ring remains charged with an additional two counts of obstructing justice.

Justice Department officials said those charges stem from purported efforts by Ring to thwart a grand jury and congressional investigation by preventing the reporting of his criminal conduct to federal authorities.

The court severed those two counts, and Ring will stand trial again at a later date.

During the trial, the government charged that Ring solicited and obtained business throughout the U.S., including with American Indian tribal governments operating and interested in operating gambling casinos.

Trial testimony established that Ring sought to further his clients’ interests by lobbying public officials in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

Justice said Ring and his co-conspirators identified public officials who would assist them and their clients, and then groomed them by providing things of value with the intent of making them more receptive to requests on behalf of their clients in the future.

The things of value, the government said, included all-expenses-paid travel, meals, drinks, golf outings, as well as tickets to professional sporting events, concerts and other events, and an employment opportunity for the wife of a congressman - which were often billed to Ring’s and Jack Abramoff’s clients.

The government said Ring’s corrupt actions resulted in his clients receiving, among other actions, $14 million in congressional transportation appropriations and an additional $7 million from the Justice Department to build a jail.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in January 2006 to honest-services fraud, conspiracy to commit honest-services fraud, and tax evasion.

He was sentenced in September 2008 to 48 months in prison and has since been released to home detention while working at a Baltimore pizzeria.

• Jerry Seper can be reached at jseper@washingtontimes.com.

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