Former DOJ Official Pleads Guilty to Abramoff-Related Charge

As expected, Robert Coughlin, formerly deputy chief of staff of the Justice Department’s criminal division, pleaded guilty today to taking all sorts of goodies from Jack Abramoff and his associate, Kevin Ring:

Robert Coughlin admitted in federal court Tuesday that he accepted meals, concert tickets and luxury seats at sporting events from a lobbyist. He pleaded guilty to a single conflict-of-interest charge and faces up to 10 months in prison under a plea deal with the government.

Coughlin’s next court date is September 18th.

Update: Coughlin has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of his guilty plea, the AP reports.

Update: The only comment from Coughlin’s lawyer, Joshua Berman, was that Coughlin “is deeply saddened by these events and looks forward to focusing his attention on his family and moving forward with his life.”

Update: So what did Ring and Abramoff hope they’d get for all those blandishments? The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Ring asked for Coughlin’s help “freeing up a $16 million jail-construction grant Congress earmarked for the Mississippi Choctaw Indian tribe.”

The jail was one of the main priorities for Abramoff’s team between 2001-2002, as they fought the Justice Department’s determination that the Choctaw, a very wealthy tribe, didn’t need the funds. The team ultimately approached Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman in an attempt to get the Choctaw their money (see much more on this, including the emails, here). Abramoff ultimately won, avoiding what would have been “SUCH a HUGE embarrassment.”

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