Ney's pleaturns focusto others,experts say

Published September 17, 2006

WASHINGTON - Rep. Bob Ney's agreement to plead guilty to federal corruption charges was not only the biggest win yet for the Justice Department in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, it was also a loud reminder that the case is not going away.

Ney, an Ohio Republican who spent months denying any wrongdoing, is the only lawmaker charged in the corruption case. But with Abramoff's money and influence spread all around Washington, some legal experts say they don't think prosecutors will stop there.

"I would be surprised if a single congressman was the only feather in the government's cap," said David H. Angeli, an Oregon defense attorney and vice chairman of the white collar unit for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Ney agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and to making false statements. He admitted in court papers that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of trips and other perks from Abramoff and an international businessman.

The six-term lawmaker cut a deal with prosecutors that recommends more than two years in prison.

"Anyone who's had his photograph taken with Abramoff gets nervous when someone else pleads guilty," said Los Angeles defense attorney Michael J. Proctor.

That list includes former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who is under scrutiny in the case, and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., who reportedly received about $150,000 in donations from Abramoff and his associates and whose aides traveled on the lobbyist's jet to the 2001 Super Bowl.