Tom DeLay's buddy Jack Abramoff has begun one of his tours through the criminal justice system.
Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a key figure in ethics investigations involving U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges he defrauded lenders in a casino cruise line deal.
Abramoff, charged along with a New York business partner in an alleged scheme to defraud lenders in the $147 million purchase of SunCruz Casinos, did not appear at his arraignment.
Neal Sonnett, Abramoff's attorney, obtained a waiver so the Baltimore-area resident did not have to make the trip. Abramoff is out on bond.
"Our defense is that he committed no fraud," Sonnett said outside of court.
According to court records, [Abramoff and business partner Adam Kidan] siphoned off some of SunCruz's income to collect $500,000 salaries and pay for private boxes at FedEx Field, MCI Center and Orioles Park at Camden Yards to entertain Republican donors and politicians. Among them: DeLay, R-Sugar Land.
And finally, as I said above, this indictment isn't the only thing Abramoff has to fear from the law right now.
Indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff claimed in e-mails sent in 2002 that the deputy secretary of the interior had pledged to block an Indian casino that would compete with one of the lobbyist's tribal clients. Abramoff later told two associates that he was trying to hire the official.
A federal task force investigating Abramoff's activities has conducted interviews and obtained documents from Interior Department officials and Abramoff associates to determine whether conflict-of-interest laws were violated, according to people with knowledge of the probe. It can be a federal crime for government officials to negotiate for a job while being involved in decisions affecting the potential employer.