01/03/2006: The 'Gimme Five'...
The Abramoff Scandal as explained by the Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher:
Scanlon and Abramoff agreed to defraud their tribal clients in a scheme they joking referred to, between themselves, as "gimme five."
To read the explanation of this corrupt world of fraud and deals, click on the "more" button.
"...Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with an ongoing public corruption probe led by the Justice Department.
In court today, Abramoff admitted to a series of schemes, which fall into three main categories I will describe for you. These schemes involved Abramoff's use of his DC based lobbying practice, through which Abramoff corrupted government officials, and defrauded his own clients.
First, Abramoff admitted to conspiring-- with his former business partner Michael Scanlon -- to defraud four Native-American Indian tribes. These tribes hired Abramoff to provide lobbying and other services related to the tribes' interest in the casino business.
Scanlon, you'll recall, pled guilty to corruption and conspiracy charges in November. Scanlon is also cooperating in this investigation.
Scanlon and Abramoff agreed to defraud their tribal clients in a scheme they joking referred to, between themselves, as "gimme five." Let me explain to you how that worked.
As described in court papers, Abramoff would recommend that his tribal clients hire a company run by Scanlon, Capital Campaign Strategies or "CCS", to perform grass-roots and public relations services on behalf of the tribes.
But the tribes weren't getting the whole picture. Abramoff did not refer tribal clients to CCS solely to further the interests of the tribes. Rather, he did so to further his own interests. And to line his own pockets in ways which were fraudulent. And illegal.
For as they have both now admitted, Abramoff and Scanlon agreed that Scanlon would pay secret kickbacks of 50 percent to Abramoff each time a tribal client hired CCS. These secret kickbacks ran into the millions of dollars, and were never disclosed to the tribal clients.
But Abramoff's fraud on his tribal clients did not stop there. In another instance, Abramoff was so bold as to take fees to assist one client when he was actually working for another client to defeat the first client's interests.
Second, Abramoff admitted today to his participation in an extensive corruption scheme. Abramoff gave things of value to public officials, including foreign and domestic trips, campaign contributions, excessive meals and entertainment and other things of value -- all with the intent, and at times with the understanding, that the public official would act to benefit Abramoff or his clients.
The things of value Abramoff provided to goverment officials included:
-- an all-expense-paid trip to Scotland to play golf on a world-famous course;
-- tickets and travel to the Super Bowl in Florida in 2001;
-- tickets for concerts and other events in Washington;
-- repeated and regular meals at his upscale restaurant;
-- and campaign contributions.
Abramoff provided these things of value with the intent and often with the understanding that his clients would receive the official action they wanted.
As admitted by Abramoff, his actions often produced the official influence he sought.
For example, as he admitted today, Abramoff:
-- had a Congressman insert statements in the Congressional Record;
-- had a Congressman endorse a wireless telephone contract for the House of Representatives,
-- had a Congressman agree to seek passage of legislation favorable to Abramoff's clients.
Government officials and governmental action are not for sale. The Justice Department will aggressively investigate and prosecute these types of cases, which have such a devastating impact on the public's trust of the government. We will not shy away from this responsibility, no matter where the trail leads.
I will note that while Abramoff engaged in the business of lobbying, his activities went far beyond lawful lobbying, to the illegal practice of paying for official acts. Lawful lobbying does not include paying a public official a personal benefit with the understanding, explicit or implicit, that a certain official act will occur. That's not lobbying -- that's a crime.
The third aspect of Abramoff's illegal conduct, as reflected in his admissions in court today, is tax evasion. Abramoff profited tremendously from the illegal arrangements outlined today, receiving an estimated $25 million in undisclosed kickbacks and other fraudulently obtained funds. Abramoff failed to report or pay taxes on these and other illegally obtained funds...."
Karen on 01.03.06 @ 07:38 PM CST