Richard Kelly, 81, the former Florida Republican congressman who was convicted in the 1980 Abscam corruption scandal, died Aug. 22 at a nursing home in Stevensville, Mont., where he had retired. He had Pick's disease, a form of dementia.
The central Florida lawmaker was one of several congressmen convicted of taking bribes from FBI agents posing as fronts for an Arab sheik seeking influence. Mr. Kelly was convicted of accepting $25,000, but the decision was overturned in 1982 after a judge ruled the FBI's persistence amounted to entrapment. However, a higher court reinstated the conviction in 1984. Mr. Kelly served 13 months in prison.
He was caught on videotape stuffing $25,000 worth of bribes into his pockets and then asking one of the agents, "Does it show?" Mr. Kelly, a former prosecutor and judge, testified that he intended to use the money to conduct his own investigation of the people who were trying to bribe him.
The Atlanta native served in the Marine Corps during World War II, graduated from the Colorado State College of Education in 1949 and received a law degree from the University of Florida in 1952. He practiced law in Zephyrhills, Fla., and served as city attorney and as a senior assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida in the late 1950s.
He became a circuit court judge in 1960, serving 14 years. He weathered an impeachment by the Florida House of Representatives in 1963 and an investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission in 1968.
During the 1968 judicial inquiry, Mr. Kelly underwent an examination by doctors at Duke University, who declared him mentally fit.
He often said in later years that he was the only judge or member of Congress formally declared sane.
He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 and defeated in a 1980 reelection bid amid the Abscam scandal.