WASHINGTON – Neil G. Volz, a Washington lobbyist who served as chief of staff for former Congressman Robert W. Ney, has been sentenced to two years probation and fined $2,000 on a charge of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today.
Volz, 37, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, by Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle. Judge Huvelle granted the government’s motion to reduce Volz’s sentence for his substantial assistance in the investigation and conviction by guilty plea of his boss, former Congressman Ney, and Volz’s successor as chief of staff for Ney, William Heaton, as well as the investigation and trial resulting in the conviction of former General Services Administration Chief of Staff David Safavian.
Volz pleaded guilty on May 8, 2006, to a charge of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and violate his one year lobbying ban. According to court documents, Volz had worked for Ney since 1994, becoming Ney’s chief of staff in 1998. After becoming chairman of the House Administration Committee in January 2001, Ney named Volz staff director of the committee. From February 2002 until mid-2004, Volz worked for Jack Abramoff as a lobbyist.
Volz admitted that he and Ney corruptly solicited and accepted things of value from Abramoff and his lobbyists in exchange for official action. He also admitted that after becoming a lobbyist in 2002, he and Abramoff and others gave things of value to Ney and his staff, including international and domestic trips, meals and drinks, concert and sporting tickets, and substantial campaign contributions and in-kind contributions such as free fund-raisers, all with the intent to influence and obtain official action benefiting Abramoff, his lobbyists, and their clients. The official action they attempted to influence included Ney’s support for legislation as well as his contacts with executive branch agencies at Abramoff’s request.
In the government’s motion for a reduced sentence based on Volz’s substantial assistance to the government’s investigation, the government stated that Volz began cooperating with investigators on a limited basis in April and June 2005 and began cooperating fully in February 2006, and continues to cooperate to this date. Volz assisted in the investigation of Ney as part of his cooperation. Ney, a Congressman representing the 18th District of Ohio from 1995 until he resigned in the fall of 2006, was sentenced in January 2007 to 30 months in prison on corruption charges. Volz also cooperated in the prosecution of William Heaton, his successor as chief of staff for Ney. Heaton, who also received credit for his cooperation in the investigation if Ney, was sentenced on Aug.15, 2007, to two years of probation.
Volz also provided important information and testified in the trial of former GSA chief of staff David Safavian on false statements and obstruction charges surrounding his relationship with Abramoff and Volz and his participation in a golf trip to Scotland in August 2002. Safavian was convicted in June 2006 and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The Volz case was prosecuted by Mary K. Butler and M. Kendall Day of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, headed by Section Chief William M. Welch II, and Nathaniel Edmonds of the Fraud Section, headed by Section Chief Steve Tyrrell. The case and others related to the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff were investigated by a task force of federal agents including special agents of the FBI, the Department of the Interior Office of the Inspector General, the General Services Administration Office of the Inspector General, and the Criminal Investigation branch of the Internal Revenue Service. The investigation has received assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and from the Criminal Tax Section of the Tax Division at the Department of Justice.