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Ex-Justice Official Expected To Plead Guilty

WASHINGTON - The former deputy chief of staff in the Justice Department's criminal division - which investigated and indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and more than 10 others on corruption charges - was charged Monday in Federal Court with accepting "things of value" from a lobbyist for an unnamed lobbying firm - believed to be Abramoff's, The Los Angeles Times reported today.

Robert E. Coughlin II was charged with violating conflict of interest laws while he worked for the Justice Department's office of legislative affairs, from 2001 to 2003.

Coughlin, 36, was expected to plead guilty today before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, the Times reported.

Coughlin became deputy chief of staff in the DOJ's criminal division in 2005. In 2006, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gave him the "Attorney General's Award for Fraud Prevention."

Coughlin resigned from the DOJ one year ago.

The Times reported that the Justice Department refused its request for comment on the information, or on the hearing scheduled for today. The newspaper said investigators focused on Coughlin's relationship with Kevin Ring, a former Abramoff assistant who had previously worked for Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, Calif.

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