A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for next week at which a former business associate of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff could plead guilty to charges arising from the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos' gambling fleet.

Plea agreements in federal criminal cases usually require the defendant to cooperate with prosecutors in return for a reduced prison sentence. That means if Adam Kidan pleads guilty he could be required to provide evidence against Abramoff and possibly testify against the lobbyist.

U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck scheduled the "change of plea" hearing for Kidan for Thursday, the judge's office said.

Kidan and Abramoff were indicted in August on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors say they faked a $23 million wire transfer to make it appear they were putting a sizable chunk of their own money into the $147.5 million SunCruz deal.

Based on the allegedly false transfer, lenders Foothill Capital Corp. and Citadel Equity Fund Ltd. agreed to provide $60 million in financing. Abramoff has said in court papers that he was unaware of the false wire transfer and blamed Kidan.

Kidan's attorney, Jonathan Rosenthal, would not comment when asked if Kidan would plead guilty. Alicia Valle, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Miami, said she could not comment on a pending case. Abramoff's lawyer in Miami, Neal Sonnett, also declined comment.

The plea hearing comes after another of Abramoff's former partners, Michael Scanlon, agreed to cooperate in the SunCruz case as part of a plea agreement in a separate case with federal prosecutors in Washington. Scanlon admitted in that agreement that he helped Kidan and Abramoff buy SunCruz, in part by persuading Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, to insert comments in the Congressional Record designed to pressure the owner to sell.

The former SunCruz owner, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, was slain in 2001 in a gangland-style hit as he drove near his office in Fort Lauderdale. Investigative documents released by police show that Boulis and Kidan were embroiled in a battle for control of SunCruz; Kidan has denied any involvement in Boulis' death.

In September, police arrested Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, 67 — who had worked for Kidan and allegedly has ties to New York mobsters — Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, 48, and James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, 28, on murder charges in Boulis' killing. All have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial in Fort Lauderdale.

Abramoff, a prominent Republican fund-raiser, had close ties to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and other senior congressional Republicans. He is under investigation in Washington in alleged frauds that cost Indian tribe clients millions of dollars.