Abramoff Cohort Gets a Break in Sentencing

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge shaved three-quarters off prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation for a convicted lobbyist tied to the Jack Abramoff scandal, making it likely that Kevin Ring will spend less than 5 years in prison.
     Ring was the only lobbyist in the scandal who refused to take a plea deal for participating in “an influence-peddling and bribery scheme whereby they provided travel, meals, tickets to sporting events, and other things of value to federal public offices.” Abramoff’s 2006 plea earned him a six-year sentence.
     U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle took on the challenge of using the complex government method for determining a criminal sentence in her ruling, stating that Ring should face 46 to 57 months. Prosecutors had pushed for 210 to 262 months, while Ring’s attorneys calculated a 21- to 27-month sentence.
     “Ring asserts that he is being penalized for exercising his Sixth Amendment right to trial, arguing that the government should be bound by the prior methodology it has consistently used for calculating the Guidelines sentences of the other Greenberg Traurig lobbyist/co-conspirators who were also convicted of honest services fraud,” Huvelle wrote.
     Though Abramoff was more “culpable” in the conspiracy, he faced a range of 108 to 135 months, and prosecutors recommended a sentence 39 months because of his cooperation, the judge noted.
     Prosecutors argued that Ring is not similarly situated to his co-conspirators because he fought the charges, expending the court and the public’s resources.
     “Taken at face value, this position could have a noticeable chilling effect on the exercise of one’s right to a jury trial,” Huvelle wrote. “While disparities in the ultimate sentence that result from cooperation ‘are not unreasonable,’ and it is ‘constitutionally proper’ for the government to ‘fail to afford leniency to those who have not demonstrated those attributes on which leniency is based,’ … the government cannot retaliate against defendant for exercising his rights.”
     Though the judge denied Ring’s request for an “acceptance-of-responsibility reduction,” she did recalculate his sentence to max out at just under five years, nearly 17 years less than what prosecutors had recommended as the maximum sentence.

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