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Judge reduces Abramoff sentence

Ex-lobbyist's help in cases is key

Jack Abramoff has cooperated in a wide-ranging investigation. Jack Abramoff has cooperated in a wide-ranging investigation.
By Curt Anderson
Associated Press / September 11, 2008
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MIAMI - A federal judge agreed yesterday to shave two years from former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff's prison sentence for a fraudulent Florida casino boat deal because of his extensive cooperation in that case and a wide-ranging political corruption probe that upended Washington politics.

The decision by US District Judge Paul Huck guarantees that Abramoff, 49, will serve no more than an additional four years in prison - the sentence imposed by a Washington, D.C., judge last week in the separate corruption case.

Abramoff's attorneys had sought to have the Florida sentence reduced from nearly six years to about two. Huck called that request "greedy" and said it would not reflect the gravity of the fraud involved in the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos by Abramoff and a partner.

"We've got two distinct sets of crimes. They are very serious," Huck said. "It could be that he would walk out of jail very soon. I'm not going to do that."

Huck accepted a Justice Department recommendation to reduce Abramoff's 70-month prison term to 45 months. He has already served nearly two years, leaving him with nearly two more to serve.

Ultimately, Huck's reduction gives the judge in the Washington corruption case room to reduce his separate 48-month prison term as a reward for Abramoff's anticipated continued cooperation in the Washington corruption case.

"His cooperation has been extensive in every place it has been asked of him," said Abramoff attorney Abbe Lowell.

With Abramoff's help, the Justice Department has indicted a dozen people on a variety of corruption and influence-peddling charges, including former US Representative Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio, former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles and several Capitol Hill aides. More people are expected to be charged.

Abramoff also assisted in the prosecution of the SunCruz Casinos case, in which he and former partner Adam Kidan pleaded guilty to fraud in 2006 for concocting fake documents indicating they had put $23 million of their own money into the gambling fleet purchase.

Kidan, 44, was rewarded with a one-half sentence reduction in June for his own cooperation, particularly in the investigation into the 2001 gangland-style slaying in Fort Lauderdale of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis. Three men, one with ties to New York's Gambino crime family, are awaiting trial for that murder and Kidan is expected to testify.

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