Recipient of Gifts From Abramoff Pleads Guilty

Associated Press
Saturday, August 12, 2006

A former Interior Department employee pleaded guilty yesterday to a misdemeanor charge for failing to report gifts he received from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Roger G. Stillwell, 66, told a federal magistrate that he had been given hundreds of dollars' worth of football and concert tickets by Abramoff, who at the time was lobbying for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Stillwell was with the Interior Department's office of insular affairs, which handles issues involving the island government. He is the fifth former government official to plead guilty or be found guilty by a jury in the investigation of Abramoff, who was convicted on felony counts of fraud and corruption.

Documents filed as part of Stillwell's plea do not indicate whether he is providing authorities with evidence against others who may be involved.

Stillwell was given four tickets to a Washington Redskins game in December 2003 valued at $316 but with an actual cost of $2,147, prosecutors said. He also accepted two tickets worth $166 to a 2003 Simon and Garfunkel concert, prosecutors said.

Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys would say whether Stillwell provided Abramoff anything in return for the gifts.

"He recognizes that his decision on how to treat gifts from Mr. Abramoff was inexcusable. For that he has deep remorse," defense attorney Justin P. Murphy said in a prepared statement. Murphy said Stillwell had been friends with Abramoff and his family for years before he took the Interior Department job.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay set sentencing for Oct. 26. Stillwell faces up to a year in prison.

So far, the Abramoff probe has resulted in guilty pleas by Abramoff, two ex-aides to former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and a former chief of staff to Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio). A former White House official was convicted on unrelated charges.

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