September 15, 2006 in Nation/World

Ohio Republican to plead guilty in inquiry

David Espo Associated Press
 

WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, is expected to plead guilty as early as today to at least one criminal charge in an election-year congressional corruption investigation, Republican officials said Thursday night.

Ney, whose ties with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff have long been under scrutiny by prosecutors, has consistently denied all wrongdoing. He announced this summer he would not seek re-election, a step he took reluctantly and at the prodding of party leaders fearful of the loss of his seat.

The Republican officials who described the legal developments said they did not know whether Ney intended to resign his seat in the House.

Calls to Ney’s home and congressional office were not immediately returned. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Two officials said Ney would admit to having filed a false disclosure report with the House of Representatives in connection with a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland that Abramoff paid for.

Any guilty plea would almost certainly renew public attention on a Republican-heavy corruption investigation that has unfolded slowly in the months leading to the midterm elections. Ney would become the first member of Congress to plead guilty in the probe.

The scandal involving Abramoff, once one of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists, stretches end-to-end down Pennsylvania Avenue, involving the White House as well as Capitol Hill.

In addition to Abramoff, the scandal has produced guilty pleas by Ney’s former chief of staff, Neil Volz, and two ex-Hill aides to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay, who resigned from Congress earlier this year, long had close ties to Abramoff.

Prosecutors also won a conviction in the Abramoff case against former White House official David Safavian, formerly the Bush administration’s top procurement official.

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