Jack Abramoff, the onetime flamboyant lobbyist who amassed a fortune by showering gifts on Congressional and executive branch officials while bilking Indian tribes of millions of dollars, was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison. Judge Ellen S. Huvelle of Federal District Court in Washington ordered that Abramoff serve the time for corruption and tax offenses uncovered by an influence-peddling investigation that touched Republican leaders in Congress and midlevel officials in the Bush administration, among others. Judge Huvelle said Abramoff had engaged in “a consistent course of corrupt conduct,” reports the New York Times.
Abramoff, who came to symbolize an out-of-control, even brazen style of courting government officials, told Huvelle he had since realized how far he had stepped over the bounds of what was permissible. Wearing a worn brown T-shirt, pants with an elastic waistband and a Jewish skullcap, he apologized profusely and in a quavering voice said he was begging for mercy. “I have fallen into an abyss,” he said. “My name is the butt of a joke.” Although the Justice Department typically exhorts judges to hand down stiff sentences, a prosecutor, Mary K. Butler, argued vigorously for a reduced jail term to encourage other criminals to cooperate in exchange for a lenient sentence. Abramoff contributed substantially to the conviction of about 10 officials, including a member of Congress, Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio.