Abramoff sentenced to almost six years

He and a business partner are also to pay restitution of more than $21-million for the SunCruz fraud.

Associated Press
Published March 30, 2006

MIAMI - After telling a judge he is working to become "a new man," disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced Wednesday to nearly six years in prison for committing fraud in the purchase of a fleet of gambling boats.

He will remain free while helping prosecutors with a bribery investigation that could involve members of Congress.

Abramoff, 47, and former business partner Adam Kidan, 41, received the minimum under federal guidelines: five years and 10 months.

The two pleaded guilty earlier to conspiracy and fraud for concocting a fake $23-million wire transfer to make it appear they were contributing their own money toward the purchase of the $147.5-million SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet. Based on that fraudulent transfer, lenders provided the pair with $60-million in financing.

Abramoff told U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck that he had started "the process of becoming a new man."

"I am much chastened and profoundly remorseful," Abramoff said. "I can only hope that the Almighty and those whom I have wronged will forgive me my trespasses."

He and Kidan were also ordered to pay restitution of more than $21-million. Both must serve three years' probation after they get out of prison.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in the SunCruz fraud in January. The same week, he pleaded guilty in Washington to defrauding Indian tribes and other lobbying clients out of millions of dollars.

He also agreed to cooperate in a corruption probe that could involve as many as 20 members of Congress. No date has been set for his sentencing in that case.

The judge in the Miami case said Abramoff and Kidan will not have to report to prison for at least 90 days so they can continue cooperating with investigators in the corruption case and the slaying of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis.