May 9, 2006 in Nation/World

Corruption probe claims 3rd ex-Capitol aide

Pete Yost Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A former top aide to Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty Monday in the Jack Abramoff influence peddling scandal, admitting he conspired to corrupt Ney, his staff and other members of Congress with trips, free tickets, meals, jobs for relatives and fundraising events.

The criminal investigation of Abramoff’s lobbying operation has now claimed Abramoff and three former congressional staffers: Neil Volz on Monday, as well as Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon, who both worked for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Abramoff and the three former congressional aides are now government witnesses whose prison terms may depend in part on how cooperative they are with federal prosecutors in the investigation involving lawmakers, their aides and members of the Bush administration.

Ney lawyer Mark Tuohey said Volz was under “extraordinary pressure” to assist the Justice Department probe.

Volz said he engaged in a conspiracy, the intent of which was “to influence members of Congress in violation of the law.”

Volz, 35, worked for Ney from 1995 until early 2002, when he went to work for Abramoff. According to court papers, when he was Ney’s chief of staff, Volz concealed gifts he got from Abramoff and his associates that were in excess of House limits; and that when he went to work for Abramoff, Volz violated the one-year ban on lobbying his old boss.

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