Abramoff Pleads Guilty

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Lobbyist Jack Abramoff (AY'-bruh-mahf) has pleaded guilty in Washington to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud. The plea agreement clears the way for Abramoff to cooperate in a massive government investigation of influence peddling involving members of Congress.

Abramoff agreed with the judge when she said that he had engaged in a conspiracy involving "corruption of public officials."

Court papers say Abramoff gave lavish gifts and contributions to an unidentified House member. That lawmaker has been identified elsewhere as Ohio Republican Bob Ney (nay), chairman of the House
Administration Committee.

A lawyer for Ney describes the charges against Abramoff as "nothing new."

Abramoff is widely expected to cooperate in a wide-ranging Justice Department investigation believed to be focusing on as many as 20 lawmakers and their aides.

He's expected to also plead guilty to two criminal charges in Florida stemming from a 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats.