WASHINGTON – A federal judge Monday refused to allow a lengthy delay in the sentencing of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, even though lawyers for both sides said the move could jeopardize a federal corruption investigation involving Congress and the Bush administration.
Abramoff attorney Abbe Lowell warned that the defense would disclose information about the ongoing corruption investigation to demonstrate the level of Abramoff's cooperation, something that could affect Abramoff's sentence in the fraud case.
"We will name names," Lowell said by telephone at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck. "That is not a good thing for law enforcement."
The judge agreed to delay sentencing from March 16 to March 29, but he rejected a joint motion by federal prosecutors and attorneys for Abramoff and co-defendant Adam Kidan to hold off for at least 90 days.
"I just don't want to get involved in a situation where it just goes on and on and on," Huck said. "I don't see any reason for postponing the sentencing."
Huck said the government can always request a reduction in Abramoff's sentence later and that he would likely allow both Abramoff and Kidan to remain free for a reasonable amount of time after they are sentenced.
Abramoff pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to charges that he and Kidan fabricated a fake wire transfer to make it appear they were putting a sizable chunk of their own money into the $147.5 million purchase of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet in 2000. Kidan pleaded guilty late last year.
Abramoff also pleaded guilty in January to charges stemming from an investigation into his ties to members of Congress and the Bush administration.
Both pleas deals require extensive cooperation from Abramoff in exchange for possible leniency at sentencing.
In the Florida case, Abramoff and Kidan both face a maximum of just over seven years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.