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Abramoff admits fault, but says he's 'not a bad man'

By Matt Apuzzo
Associated Press / September 4, 2008
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WASHINGTON - Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff told a federal judge yesterday that his lifestyle of trading expensive gifts for political favors crossed the line, even by Washington standards, but said he was "not a bad man" and pleaded for leniency.

Abramoff, the central figure in a corruption scandal that shook up Washington politics and contributed to the Republican loss of Congress in 2004, is scheduled to be sentenced today. In a letter to the court yesterday, he said even he is shocked to look back on what his life had become.

"It is hard to see the exact moment that I went over the line but, looking backwards, it is amazing for me to see how far I strayed and how I did not see it at the time," Abramoff wrote. "So much of what happens in Washington stretches the envelope, skirts the spirit of the rules, and lives in the loopholes. But even by those standards, I blundered farther than even those excesses would allow."

Abramoff is serving a nearly six-year prison sentence for a fraudulent Florida casino deal. He faces up to 11 years in prison when he is sentenced today for corrupting Capitol Hill lawmakers with expensive meals, golf junkets, luxury sports tickets, and other gifts.

But prosecutors are asking for a much more lenient sentence of less than four years. Defense lawyers say he deserves less time.

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