Darn those devious former chiefs of staff anyway.
A Washington lobbyist who formerly served as chief of staff to Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) pleaded guilty today to a federal conspiracy charge in a continuing corruption probe surrounding disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Neil G. Volz, 35, who worked for Ney from 1995 to 2002 before joining Abramoff's lobbying firm, pleaded guilty to a single count, admitting that he conspired with Abramoff and others to commit fraud and to violate a federal ban on lobbying within one year of his congressional employment. The alleged fraud involved accepting and offering various inducements in exchange for "official action," prosecutors said.
"Guilty, your honor," Volz told U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in entering his plea in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Volz faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but he could receive a much lower penalty depending on his cooperation in the continuing corruption investigation, Justice Department officials said.
The plea agreement draws the investigation closer to Ney. The six-term congressman, who easily won his Republican primary last week, denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged. However, he has been identified as the "Representative #1" who has been accused in court documents of accepting various "things of value" in return for official acts as far back as 2000.
Today's plea agreement also refers repeatedly to "Representative #1," who it says accepted trips, restaurant meals and other gifts or perks in exchange for "favorable official action" and other assistance for clients of Abramoff and Volz.
Ohio party leaders have been quietly pressing Ney to drop out of the race for reelection to the House. So far, Ney has refused, saying he plans to continue representing Ohio's largely rural 18th District . He won 68 percent of the vote in the May 2 GOP primary against a poorly funded challenger.
Meanwhile, on a different front, the Public Campaign Action Front chronicles Tom DeLay's connections to Brent Wilkes, the gentleman responsible for bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. I wonder what emails may exist for this relationship.
UPDATE: More from The Stakeholder.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 09, 2006 to Scandalized! | TrackBack