The Washington Post

Former House aide guilty in Abramoff scandal

A federal jury on Thursday convicted a former House aide of conspiracy and accepting an illegal all-expenses paid trip to the 2003 World Series in New York City in the final trial linked to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Fraser C. Verrusio, 41, a former policy director for Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), then chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was found guilty after a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts of the District.

Verrusio was also convicted of making a false statement for failing to report the $1,259 trip - which included airfare, lodging, dinner, a game ticket, two souvenir T-shirts and a strip bar visit - on a House financial disclosure form.

United Rentals, then a $3 billion-a-year construction equipment rental company that had hired a lobbyist later linked to Abramoff, paid for the trip with Verrusio and a counterpart Senate aide to win more business in what eventually became a $286 billion highway authorization bill that included the "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska.

"Today, a federal jury in the District of Columbia sent a strong message that corruption on Capitol Hill will not be tolerated," U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said in a statement.

Verrusio faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy and false statements counts and up to two years for accepting an illegal gratuity. Roberts set sentencing for May 6.

Spencer S. Hsu is an investigative reporter, two-time Pulitzer finalist and national Emmy award nominee.


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