Abramoff gets 4 years in prison for corruption

September 5, 2008 7:43:13 AM PDT
Jack Abramoff, the once powerful lobbyist convicted of illegally trading expensive gifts for political favors, was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday by a federal judge who said the corruption scandal Abramoff spawned had shattered public confidence in the political system. Abramoff, who declared himself a broken man, appeared crestfallen as the judge handed down a sentence longer than even prosecutors had sought.

Still, Abramoff received a dramatic reduction in his sentence. U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle could have sent him to prison for 11 years but she credited Abramoff with becoming the key FBI witness in his own corruption scandal. With his help, the Justice Department has convicted a congressman and several Capitol Hill aides and Bush administration figures.

Abramoff admitted using luxury golf junkets, expensive meals, skybox tickets and other gifts to win political action on behalf of his clients. The scandal shook Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Capitol Hill and contributed to Republicans losing control of Congress in 2006.

Abramoff apologized to the court and said he was a changed man.

"I come before you as a broken man," Abramoff said. "I'm not the same man who happily and arrogantly engaged in a lifestyle of political and business corruption."

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