Saturday, February 18, 2006
MIAMI, Feb. 17 -- The Justice Department and defense lawyers asked a federal judge Friday to delay the March sentencing of lobbyist Jack Abramoff in a Florida fraud case to allow him more time to cooperate in a broader government corruption investigation.
Abbe Lowell, Abramoff's lawyer in Washington, said in a telephone conference with U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck that if sentencing went forward as scheduled on March 16, it would be "upsetting to what's happening behind the scenes."
"It's based solely on the sensitivities of cooperation," Lowell said of the request.
Abramoff pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to charges that he and a former partner, Adam Kidan, concocted a fake wire transfer to make it appear they were putting a sizable stake of their own money into the $147.5 million purchase in 2000 of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet. Kidan also pleaded guilty.
Abramoff also pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming from an investigation into the former lobbyists' ties to members of Congress and to the Bush administration.
Both guilty pleas require extensive cooperation from Abramoff in exchange for potential leniency at sentencing. The motion, signed by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers, seeks a maximum delay of 90 days in the March sentencing date.
"Mr. Abramoff has been working very hard in terms of his cooperation," said Neal Sonnett, Abramoff's attorney in Miami.
Huck said he would consider the request, which also includes Kidan, now scheduled to be sentenced March 1.