WASHINGTON -- Michael Scanlon, a former partner to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to bribe public officials and agreed to cooperate in a widening criminal investigation of members of Congress.
Scanlon, a former aide to US Representative Tom DeLay, has been cooperating in the Justice Department probe since June, one of his attorneys, Plato Cacheris, said after the plea.
Scanlon entered the plea before US District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle and was ordered to pay restitution totaling about $19 million to Indian tribes that he admitted had been defrauded.
In a statement of facts, Scanlon agreed that he and an unidentified person referred to as Lobbyist A ''provided a stream of things of value to public officials in exchange for a series of official acts."
The items to one unidentified congressman or his staff included all-expense-paid trips to the Northern Marianas Islands in 2000, a trip to the Super Bowl in Tampa in 2001, and a golf trip to Scotland in 2002.
Based on information already placed on the public record by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Lobbyist A is Abramoff and the congressman is US Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican.
On Friday, Scanlon was charged with conspiracy. Yesterday, the Justice Department's statement of facts that Scanlon signed went considerably beyond the earlier document, revealing that trips, sporting event tickets, and campaign contributions went to other public officials besides Ney in exchange for official acts.
The court documents said a senior staffer for ''Representative No. 1" traveled to the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands in January 2000 to assist Abramoff and others in maintaining lobbying clients; and placed a statement in the Congressional Record calculated to pressure the then-owner of a Florida gaming company to sell on terms favorable to Abramoff. It also said that as the cochairman of a conference committee of House and Senate members, Representative No. 1 would introduce legislation that would lift an existing federal ban against commercial gaming for an Indian tribe.
Outside the courthouse, Cacheris said his client regrets what happened to the tribes and is trying to do what is right by cooperating with the investigation.
Abramoff and Scanlon were paid $80 million between 2001 and 2004 by six American Indian tribes with casinos.