Abramoff Ally Kevin Ring Found Guilty In Scheme To Corrupt Officials

Congressional Quarterly/Newscom

An associate of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was found guilty in federal court on five counts related to a scheme to corrupt public officials.

Kevin Ring was found guilty on one count of conspiring to corrupt congressional and executive branch officials by providing things of value; 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 Justice Department said in a statement. Ring was acquitted on three counts of honest services fraud, said DOJ.The former lobbyist faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy, two years in prison for payment of a gratuity and 20 years in prison for each of the three counts of honest services wire fraud, said the Justice Department. He could also be ordered to pay up to $250,000 on each count of conviction. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for March 1.

This was the second time Ring had gone through a trial. A judge declared a mistrial last year when the jury was unable to reach a consensus on some of the charges in the case.

The outcome of this trial had been in doubt because the man who had been described as the strongest witness against Ring recanted his testimony.

Ring, a former aide to Rep. John Doolittle, served as the middleman for Abramoff in the hiring of Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, a political fundraising company headed by Doolittle’s wife. More on Ring’s background here.

Others pled guilty for their roles in the conspiracy uncovered by the wide ranging investigation, but Ring was the only lobbyist who took his case to court.

While they were convinced by the arguments of the prosecutors, some jurors wondered whether the case was a proper use of government resources, the Associated Press reported:

Several jurors said in interviews after leaving the courtroom that they didn’t know much about how lobbying worked before the case, but prosecutors convinced them he crossed the line.

“There’s a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things,” said retired postal worker Tom Bandy.

Bandy and other jurors said there was not a lot of disagreement, but they wanted to take their time to go over all the elements of the complicated case based largely on Ring’s own e-mails to the officials and his lobbying colleagues.

Even though they convicted him on most counts, several jurors questioned whether the case was a proper use of government resources.

“I saw it as a waste of time and money, but the law is what it is,” said Andre Ruffin outside the courtroom as several of his fellow jurors nodded in agreement.

Another member of “Team Abramoff” was held accountable “through the talent and hard work of prosecutors from the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity and Fraud Sections,” said Mythili Raman, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the 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,” Raman said. “Through the continued vigilance of our prosecutors and our law enforcement partners, we are committed to bringing to justice those who seek to corrupt our democratic process.”