Tags: Republican | with | Abramoff | Ties | Plead | Guilty

Republican with Abramoff Ties to Plead Guilty

Wednesday, 06 June 2007 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- A Republican activist will plead guilty to obstructing Congress in the influence-peddling scandal centered around former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, her lawyer said on Wednesday.

Italia Federici also will plead guilty to tax evasion at a court hearing on Friday, lawyer Jonathan Rosen said.

Federici had close ties to senior Interior Department officials as head of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, or CREA, a nonprofit group founded by former Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

According to criminal charges filed by the government, Federici in 2001 introduced Abramoff to her sometime boyfriend, ex-Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles.

Abramoff, currently serving a six-year prison sentence, is at the center of a lobbying scandal that has resulted in prison time for several Bush administration officials and one congressman.

Over the next several years, Federici served as a go-between for Griles and Abramoff, the charges say. Abramoff donated roughly $500,000 to her group during that time.

"Defendant Federici served as a conduit for information between Abramoff and Griles in order to foster Abramoff's and his client's interests," the criminal information filed by the Justice Department says.

Federici lied about her relationship with Abramoff and Griles to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in October and November 2005, the charges say.

She also failed to pay $77,243 in taxes she owed on the $233,955 she earned between 2001 and 2003 as head of CREA, the charges say.

'COMMITTED ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATE'

Federici regrets her actions, her lawyers said in a statement.

"Such conduct is not only inconsistent with her own ideals and expectations, but also contradicts her years of public service in the not-for-profit community as a committed environmental advocate," the statement said.

CREA's finances were handled in a casual manner and largely on a cash basis, according to the charges. Federici and the organization's vice president, Jared Carpenter, did not take regular salaries but paid themselves by withdrawing cash directly from the group's bank account, the charges say.

Carpenter was responsible for CREA's day-to-day financial management, according to the charges.

On its Web site, CREA defends the environmental record of President George W. Bush and other Republicans and criticizes better-known environmental groups like the Sierra Club.

A phone number listed for the group appeared to be inoperable.

Griles pleaded guilty in March to obstructing Congress, becoming the highest-ranking Bush administration official convicted in the Abramoff lobbying scandal. Sentencing was set for June 26.

Former Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio is also serving a 30-month prison sentence for accepting bribes, while former Bush administration procurement official David Safavian has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for lying and obstructing justice during the investigation.

Several former Republican congressional aides have also pleaded guilty as part of the investigation.

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WASHINGTON -- A Republican activist will plead guilty to obstructing Congress in the influence-peddling scandal centered around former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, her lawyer said on Wednesday. Italia Federici also will plead guilty to tax evasion at a court hearing on...
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2007-00-06
Wednesday, 06 June 2007 12:00 AM
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