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October 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Former Bush White House Official Gets 1 Year For Lying About Ties to Disgraced Lobbyist Jack Abramoff

David Safavian/ gov photo

David Safavian/ gov photo

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — The taint of lobbyist Jack Abramoff  surfaced again when a federal judge on Friday sentenced a former Bush White House official to one year in prison for lying about his ties to Abramhoff.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman sentenced David H. Safavian, former General Services Administration (GSA) Chief of Staff, and admonished him for not recognizing right from wrong. Safavian eventually left GSA to become the  Bush White House chief procurement officer.

To date, 20 people including lobbyists and public officials have pleaded guilty, been convicted or are awaiting trial in connection with the probe into crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is serving a four year prison term for corruption related charges on top of the 22 months he had already served prior to sentencing, according to a U.S. Attorney press release.

Safavian’s sentencing came one day after the government bumped up against a major setback. A federal jury deadlocked on 8 corruption charges against ex-lobbyist Kevin Ring, an associate of Abramoff. A mistrial was declared.

Safavavian was convicted on Dec. 19, 2008 of one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of making a false statement, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was initially convicted in June 2006, but an appeals court vacated the verdict and ordered a new trial.

The jury this time found that Safavian, as the GSA chief of staff, helped Abramoff in connection with his attempts to acquire GSA-controlled properties. In turn, Abramoff took him on a luxury golf trip to Scotland and London.

Over the next three years, the jury found Safavian made false statements to conceal the trip from investigators. The cover up continued after November 2004 when Safavian became the the White House chief procurement officer, authorities said.

The Associated Press reported that Safavian told the judge that he never intended to break the law and “I know I have made stupid decisions.”

AP also reported that the judge seemed genuinely moved by Safavian’s wife Jennifer Safavian’s emotional statements in which she said her husband “is not like Jack Abramoff” who she described as a “a despicable human being.'”

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