Former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff has reportedly pleaded guilty to criminal charges and is facing a separate SEC complaint for an allegedly fraudulent crypto-currency scheme.
Abramoff did prison time a decade ago on notorious Bush-era corruption charges that dragged down other lobbyists, congressional staff, and one member of Congress. He was released in 2010.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California is charging Abramoff with “conspiracy to commit wire fraud and lobbying disclosure violations,” according to an SEC release.
U.S. Attorney David Anderson said at a press conference Thursday, according to Bloomberg, that Abramoff had agreed to plead guilty and that he could face up to five years in prison.
The SEC announcement of its complaint alleged that Abramoff had conducted an “fraudulent, unregistered offering” of a BitCoin product, AML BitCoin. Abramoff has agreed to a settlement with the SEC, according to its release.
The scheme involved false claims that “multiple government agencies were negotiating to use AML BitCoin,” according to the SEC. The SEC said Abramoff and an associate “falsely claimed that they were on the verge of advertising AML BitCoin during the Super Bowl in an effort to create interest in the offering.”
Abramoff previously served nearly four years in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax charges in 2006. His case exposed the web of corrupt favors traded around Washington among his circle of political operatives, members of Congress and their aides.
The scandal also landed a former Republican House representative in prison, while several other congressional staffers and lobbyists pleaded guilty in the investigation.
High-level members of the George W. Bush administration were also swept up in the probe, as was then House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who was ousted from Congress in part due to his Abramoff connections.
Abramoff’s lobbying tricks included wining and dining politicians, scoring their staff tickets to sporting events, and even just straight up handing out cash in exchange for political favors.
After he was released from prison, Abramoff went on a PR tour that included a memoir, television appearances and an embrace of criminal justice reform efforts.
In 2017, he made a public entrance into the world of BitCoin, training activists in the crypto-currency space for a reality TV show.
The scheme that has Abramoff in legal trouble now also involved Roland Marcus Andrade, the CEO of NAC Foundation, which raised $5.6 million from more than 2,400 investors for the BitCoin offering, according to the SEC.
Andrade has been criminally charged with fraud and money laundering. Andrade and NAC Foundation retained Abramoff in 2017 to market the BitCoin product, according to the Justice Department, and Abramoff made public statements that misrepresented its technological developments, the department alleged.
At the press conference announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney Andeson reportedly said that the new charges brought against Abramoff were the first time a Lobbying Disclosure Act violation had been brought since Congress amended the law in 2007.
Congress beefed up the law as part of the response to the Abramoff scandal of the mid-aughts.
Read the DOJ’s criminal information below: