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Scanlon charged with conspiracy to defraud in lobbying scandal

WASHINGTON - The criminal investigation of former Republican lobbyist Jack
Abramoff gathered momentum Nov. 18 when his partner, Michael Scanlon, was
charged with conspiracy to defraud Indian tribes of millions of dollars in
a wide-ranging scandal that involved kickbacks, illegal campaign donations
and influence peddling on Capitol Hill.

The Justice Department filed a criminal information document in U.S.
District Court, charging Scanlon with one count of conspiracy to corrupt
political officials and defraud the Indian tribes that were his and
Abramoff's clients.

A criminal information document usually means the person charged has agreed
to cooperate with federal investigators and plead guilty in a plea bargain
arrangement.

Scanlon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate federal
bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud laws Nov. 21. His plea confirmed that
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, was involved in the quid pro quo - receiving "favors"
from Scanlon and Abramoff in exchange for taking actions favorable to their
clients.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Scanlon faces up to 5 years in prison and
agreed to make restitution of $19.6 million, one-half of the amount that
prosecutors say he and Abramoff split in profits from four tribes.

Abramoff was indicted in August on fraud and conspiracy charges in a
separate case involving the purchase of a fleet of casino boats in Florida.

The Justice Department investigation taskforce includes members of the FBI
and Internal Revenue Service and intertwines with a Senate Indian Affairs
Committee probe of allegations that Abramoff and Scanlon defrauded six
Indian tribes out of more than $80 million in lobbying fees and other
expenses. The two men are alleged to have skimmed two-thirds off the top
for themselves in a secret kickback scam that was concealed from their
clients.

Scanlon is a one-time press secretary to former House Majority Leader Tom
DeLay who faces felony charges in Texas involving illegal campaign
donations. E-mails released during the investigations connect DeLay to
Abramoff through a lavish golfing trip to Scotland, meals at Abramoff's
Washington restaurant Signatures, and campaign contributions of at least
$57,000 from Abramoff and his tribal clients.

Abramoff is not named in the document, but is referred to as "Lobbyist A."
The document also refers to "Representative No. 1," a member of Congress
who is said to have received "a stream of things of value" in exchange for
his efforts to pass legislation favorable to Abramoff and Scanlon's tribal
clients.

Ney was identified by his attorney Mark Tuohey as "Representative No. 1,"
according to an Associated Press report. Ney also participated in the
Abramoff-funded golfing trip to Scotland.

The charge against Scanlon says he and Lobbyist A "sought and received
Representative No. 1's agreement to perform a series of official acts." The
acts included "agreements to support and pass legislation, agreements to
place statements into the Congressional Record, meeting with Lobbyist A and
Scanlon's clients, and advancing the application of Lobbyist A for a
license to install wireless telephone infrastructure in the House of
Representatives," according to the report.

Tuohey said that Ney, who started a legal defense fund in November, was
innocent of any wrongdoing, but rather was victimized by Abramoff.