Good morning. I am joined this morning by Michael Mason, Executive Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Earl Devaney, Inspector General of the Department of Interior.
This morning, federal prosecutors filed a two-count information and signed plea documents in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Ohio Congressman Robert W. Ney has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, violating the one-year lobbying ban on congressional officials and making material false statements, and to one count of making false statements.
As he admits in the plea documents, Congressman Ney and his co-conspirators engaged in a long-term pattern of defrauding the public of his unbiased, honest services as an elected official. Congressman Ney admits that he corruptly solicited and accepted a stream of benefits, valued in the tens of thousands of dollars, in exchange for agreeing to perform, and performing, a series of official acts. He also illegally deceived the public and the House of Representatives about his actions. In doing so, the Congressman was acting in his own best interests, and not in the best interests of his constituents.
Specifically, Congressman Ney admits that he corruptly solicited and accepted a stream of benefits from Jack Abramoff and other lobbyists, including:
In exchange, as Congressman Ney admits, he agreed to take and he took a series of official actions. For example, he
Then, to conceal this illegal conduct from the public, he failed to accurately report these benefits and lied on his Annual Financial Disclosure Statements filed with the House of Representatives.
In addition, as part of the conspiracy to deprive the public of his honest services, and with the intent to be influenced, Congressman Ney took thousands of dollars in free gambling chips from a foreign businessman. This foreign businessman was seeking an exemption to the U.S. export laws prohibiting the sale of his goods to a foreign country, and a visa to the United States. Congressman Ney traveled to London, took free gambling money and, then, Congressman Ney agreed to help, and indeed made efforts to help when he returned home to the United States.
Congressman Ney admits that he intentionally concealed the amount of gambling proceeds by filing a false U.S. Customs disclosure form and false annual financial disclosure statements. And Congressman Ney had a staff member carry approximately $5,000 through Customs so the Congressman could falsely report a smaller amount to Customs officials.
People must have faith and confidence in their elected representatives. We will enforce the laws that protect the integrity of our government.
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The parties will present the plea to the Court on October 13, 2006.
I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the attorneys prosecuting this case, Mary Butler, Kendall Day and Jim Crowell from the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division; Ed Nucci, Acting Chief of Public Integrity, Paul Pelletier, Acting Chief of the Fraud Section; Lee O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General of the Tax Division; Alex Acosta, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and prosecutors from his office; The Federal Bureau of Investigation, including Michael Mason, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI, Chip Burrus, Assistant Director, and agents Maria Borsuk, Jeff Reising, Lonna Johnson, Ron Miller; Inspector General of Interior Earl Devaney and agents Pat Murphy and Michelle Pinkerton; Inspector General of the GSA Brian Miller and the Criminal Investigative Division of the I.R.S.