Ex-US congressman jailed for graft

Bob Ney gets 30 months in prison for accepting gifts and money from a lobbyist.

    Ney pleaded guilt to having accepted gifts and money in return for official favours [AFP] 

    Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the US district court for Washington DC also imposed a fine of $6000 and ordered Ney to serve two years of supervised release following his 30 months imprisonment.
     
    Ney had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, but his sentence was reduced as part of a plea bargain in which he agreed to cooperate with a wider investigation into Abramoff and official corruption.
     
    He admitted to opposing legislation and inserted statements into the legislature's official record at Abramoff's request, in return for thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.
     
    In court he said he was fighting "the demons of addiction that are within me".
     
    He abandoned his re-election campaign in August because of questions over his links to Abramoff.
     
    Major embarrassment
     
    Ney, who represented an Ohio district in congress from 1994 to 2006 and is the only congressman convicted and sentenced in the scandal, has been a major embarrassment for the Republicans.
     

    "Today's sentence makes it clear that our government is not for sale"

    Alice Fisher,
    assistant attorney general

    During the 2006 election campaign, the Democrats frequently pointed to Ney, who pleaded guilty to the charges against him in October, as part of a wider "culture of corruption" in the Republican majority.
     
    Earlier in March, Randy Cunningham, another Republican congressman, has been jailed for more than eight years for taking $2.4 million in bribes in return for influencing defence contracts.
     
    In November the Republicans lost their majority in congress to the Democrats in legislative elections.
     
    Tom DeLay, the former Republican majority leader, had also resigned from congress last year over charges of violating campaign finance rules.
     
    Ney was possibly best known for renaming "French Fries" in the House of Representatives' cafeteria, as "Freedom Fries", as a protest to France's opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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