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Jack Abramoff's Criminal Activities

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The following provides an overview of Jack Abramoff's Criminal Activities.


Indian Casinos

Main article: Abramoff-Reed Indian Gambling Scandal

Jack Abramoff has been under investigation by separate state and federal grand jury investigations into lobbying performed for Indian tribes running casino gambling businesses. In addition to the allegation of dishonest dealing arising from the consulting contracts themselves, Abramoff is accused of illegally giving favors to senior Republicans Thomas D. DeLay, Conrad Burns and Ohio Representative Bob Ney.

In the late 1990s, Abramoff joined up with former DeLay press secretary Michael Scanlon to represent Indian tribes involved in gambling. They also worked closely with Washington power broker Grover Norquist and Christian activist Ralph E. Reed, Jr.. The tribes paid them fees that are believed to exceed $85 million. Subsequently, the tribes and other investigators accused them of corrupt practices including orchestrating lobbying against their own clients in order to force them to pay for lobbying services.

The Jack in the House website, which is devoted to exposing Abramoff's complicated dealmaking, describes his work for the Indians as follows:

Abramoff realized that Indian tribes, with their endless supply of casino money could be cash cows, not just for him, but for the Republican party. Abramoff was hired by the Choctaw tribe of Mississippi to stop Congress from taxing Indian casino profits. Abramoff convinced DeLay to oppose a proposal taxing Indian casinos, explaining that tribes could become Republican allies and in 1995, DeLay publicly stated that Abramoff was an important part of the effort to move the tribes toward the Republicans. Abramoff also enlisted the support of his old friend, Grover Norquist, now the most powerful anti-tax advocate in the country. Abramoff's tribal clients became generous donors to Republican Members of Congress and Republican causes.
Not content with being a rich lobbyist, Abramoff began to plot with Scanlon to separate more Indian tribes from their money. The plan was to close Indian casinos and then convince the tribes to hire them to persuade Congress to reopen the shuttered casinos. Again, Abramoff turned to an old friend: this time, it was Ralph Reed, who was by now a political consultant. Though Abramoff, Indian tribes who feared the competition of other casinos paid Reed over $4 million to shutter or prevent the opening of casinos in Texas, Alabama and Louisiana. Typical of the e-mail exchanges between the men, in a Jan. 7, 2001 e-mail to Reed, Abramoff stated, "It's not shuttered yet. let's [sic] get this thing closed and then we'll see what we can do. As we type they are gambling away." Reed responded, "Done. Hope these developments help with the client." Later on in the e-mail exchange, Abramoff told Reed: "we should continue to pile on until the place is shuttered. Perhaps we could get one of our guys in the legislature to introduce a bill which disqualifies from state contracts any vendor who provides goods or services to a casino in the state? This way, [Rick] Perry [Lt. Governor of Texas] and [John] Cornyn [then Texas Attorney General] can sit back and not be scared." Ultimately, Abramoff and Reed - with the help of now Sen. Cornyn - were able to shut down the Tigua's casino. Then came the more difficult task of getting it re-opened.
Abramoff convinced Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) to carry legislation reopening the Tigua's casino. At Abramoff's direction, the Tigua contributed $32,000 to Ney in 2002 ($30,000 to PAC and $2,000 to campaign), just days after Ney sponsored the legislation sought by the tribe. Ney now claims that he was tricked into supporting the tribe by Abramoff and Scanlon who, he says, told him that Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) supported the scheme. The truth is though that Ney learned in late July 2002 that Dodd was opposed to the legislation, but that Ney met with tribal leaders in August, telling them that the legislation would pass Congress and never mentioning Dodd's real views. Eventually, unable to persuade Dodd to change his mind, Ney told the tribe that Dodd had gone back on his word and stripped the Tigua's legislation out of the pending election reform bill. It was only after trying to work Dodd through other channels that the tribe learned that Ney had been lying. [1]

In 2004, the Indian gambling scandal led to Abramoff's resignation from Greenberg Traurig.

Committee on Indian Affairs

The following comes from a September 29, 2004, press release posted by the Committee on Indian Affairs. [2]

"After seven months of investigating charges of Indian tribes being victimized by high-profile lobbyists, today Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell presided over a hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee and received testimony that Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, and the corporations they owned, had walked away with nearly seventy million dollars in fees for what can only be described as less than honorable dealings.
"'I am horrified by what I believe these men and their accomplices pulled off to the detriment of the tribes and their members. By manipulating tribal elections and installing people favorable to their greedy ends, they engineered a situation and enriched themselves --- all the while holding these same Indian people in incredibly low regard.' Said Campbell.
"The low regard in which these men held their Indian clients was clearly evidenced by emails, entered into the hearing record today by Senator Campbell. 'They called them monkeys, mofos, morons and idiots, and even worse!' Said Campbell. 'I could not believe this until I had actually seen the emails. And this from the man who called racist the Washington Post reporter that broke the story on his fraudulent activities.'"

SunCruz Casinos

In Miami: "a gang style hit"

The seller of the casinos, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, a 51-year-old Greek immigrant, made his first fortune out of the 'Miami Subs' chain of sandwich shops. He then launched the SunCruz Casinos business which offered 'cruises to nowhere', taking passengers into international waters out of reach of the Florida state gambling laws. The state of Florida made several attempts to shut the business down, finally succeeding in 1999 when federal prosecutors charged Boulis with violating shipping laws over the ship's registration. Boulis agreed to pay a $1 million fine and sell the business.

Boulis alleged that the $23 million payment was never made. Boulis also aledged that Adam Kidan had links to organized crime. [3] In particular Kidan had hired Anthony Moscatiello as a business advisor despite a previous indictment as an associate of the Gambino crime family led by Mafia crime boss John Gotti. In February 2001, Boulis was shot to death five months later in what police called "a gang style hit" which has never been solved. A suit brought by Boulis' estate alleges that Kidan made three payments of $10,000 to Moscatiello immediately prior to the murder.

Murderers Arrested

"Perhaps solving one of South Florida's most notorious crimes, police arrested three men Tuesday in the 2001 ambush slaying of Konstaninos 'Gus' Boulis -- a murder that happened a few months after Boulis sold a fleet of casino boats to prominent Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a partner.

Police arrested

  1. Anthony Moscatiello ["Big Tony"] "on charges of murder, solicitation of murder and conspiracy."
  2. Anthony Ferrari ["Little Tony"].
  3. James Fiorillo ["Pudgy"].

"Police would not comment on whether they got any big breaks from Abramoff or his former partner, Adam Kidan, both of whom were indicted Aug. 11 on federal fraud charges in connection with their September 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos for $145.7 million from Boulis." [4]

See "The Boulis Timeline" posted September 28, 2005, by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

SunCruz Casinos Bank Fraud Indictment

On August 11, 2005, Abramoff and his partner, 36-year-old New York businessman Adam Kidan, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on fraud charges arising from a 2000 deal to buy casino boats. Adam Kidan and a third associate, Ben Waldman, as yet unindicted, allegedly used a fake wire transfer to defraud Foothill Capital Corp. and Citadel Equity Fund Ltd that had agreed to lend $60 million to purchase the casinos on condition that Abramhoff and his partners made a cash contribution of $23 million. The indictment alleges that the transfer was counterfeit.

Abramoff and Kidan were charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. According to the Associated Press, "Each count carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine." [5]

Missing $$$

Still unaccounted for is "the quarter million dollars in unexplained payments Abramoff business partner Adam Kidan made to Moscatiello, Ferrari and their family members around the time of Boulis' death," Josh Marshall pointed out September 27, 2005. "Kidan earlier explained that the payments were for 'catering' and 'surveillance'."

LLC "Proliferation"

"The number of companies owned by Abramoff proliferated as the SunCruz deal collapsed. From June 2001 to June 2003, Abramoff established seven companies: Yamohu LLC; Sports Suites LLC; Archives LLC; Kaygold LLC; LIVSAR Enterprises LLC; SVJA LLC; and Beis Avrohom Chaim Inc., which is registered as a nonprofit corporation.

"In addition, Abramoff established the Capital Athletic Foundation in 2000 and the Abramoff Family Fund LP in 1999. Yet another company, founded in 1997, DL/JA LLC, owns Abramoff's home in Silver Spring, Md." [6]

Arrested in Los Angeles

Although on August 11, 2005, FBI agents were seeking to arrest Abramoff in the Baltimore area on a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, bank-fraud indictment "after a Fort Lauderdale federal grand jury charged him and a New York businessman with scheming to defraud two lenders in a $147.5 million purchase of SunCruz Casinos, he was actually arrested late that afternoon in Los Angeles.

"The Justice Department played hardball last week with former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, in part because of concerns he might flee to Israel," Michael Isikoff reported in the August 22, 2005, issue of Newsweek. "Hours before Abramoff was indicted on fraud charges in Miami last Thursday, FBI agents tried to arrest him at his Maryland home. But he'd already left for Los Angeles. Agents tracked him down on his cell phone and ordered him to surrender to the local FBI office. When Abramoff did, later that day, he was handcuffed, thrown into jail, then released last Friday on a $2.2 million bond."

As part of his bail, Abramoff also was forced to surrender his passport, restrict his travel to California, Florida and Maryland and continue mental health treatments.

Political Connections

The casinos were subsequently auctioned off to new management in a bankruptcy action brought by Foothill Capital. Foothill settled with Abramoff for an undisclosed sum and continued litigation against Kidan.

Press accounts have suggested that Abramoff used his political connections to gain support for the deal in Washington [7].

Tom DeLay, then House minority whip gave Boulis a flag that had flown over the capitol building. Abramoff brought his lead financier in the deal to a fund raiser for DeLay in Abramoff's box at FedEx Field.

Ohio Republican Representative Bob Ney promoted the Kidan/Abramoff in the House on several occasions. In March 2000, before the deal was closed Ney accused the SunCruz management of cheating passengers. On October 26, 2000, he praised the change of ownership:

"'While Mr. Kidan certainly has his hands full in his efforts to clean up SunCruz's reputation, his track record as a businessman and as a citizen lead me to believe that he will easily transform SunCruz from a questionable enterprise to an upstanding establishment that the gaming community can be proud of.'"

Ney has since accused Abramoff of duping him. A DeLay spokesperson said that he had no recollection of the meeting.

Abramoff-Bush-White House-Gabon Connection

White House and Department of State officials described President George W. Bush's May 26, 2004, meeting with African leader President Omar Bongo of Gabon, "whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine," Philip Shenon wrote in the November 9, 2005, New York Times.

However, Shenon reported, in 2003, Abramoff asked Bongo for $9 million "to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees" to GrassRoots Interactive, "the small Maryland lobbying company that his former colleagues say he controlled," and which is "now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents."

"There has been no evidence in the public record that Mr. Abramoff had any role in organizing the meeting or that he received any money or had a signed contract with Gabon. ... The officials said they knew of no involvement by Mr. Abramoff in the arrangements. Officials at Gabon's embassy in Washington did not respond to written questions," Shenon wrote.

Reed-Abramoff-Cornyn

A November 30, 2001, e-mail from former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed to Abramoff, then working as "a lobbyist for the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana to prevent rival gaming casinos from siphoning off its Texas customers," claimed "that he choreographed" Senator John Cornyn's "efforts as Texas attorney general to shut down an East Texas Indian tribe's casino," Associated Press reporter Suzanne Gamboa wrote November 12, 2005.

Guam Grand Jury Investigation

Tyco International Ltd.

2002 Election NH "Phone Jamming" Case

Channel One

Channel One is the "in-school marketing company, which compels 8 million kids [grades six through twelve] to watch two minutes of ads each schoolday," according to the nonprofit organization Commercial Alert. [8]

Channel One's parent company, Primedia, employed Jack Abramoff and his associate Tony Rudy from 1999 through 2003, to lobby for Channel One. "Although it is not clear what Mr. Abramoff's firm did for Channel One, the network has faced a number of legislative threats," reports AdAge, including proposed "regulations to limit how marketers reach students. Channel One also derived much of its ad revenue from government agencies, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and military recruitment efforts." A Primedia spokesman said Abramoff's Channel One work "did not include any effort to secure government agency advertising." [9]

SourceWatch Resources

External links

See lengthy lists of articles related to Jack Abramoff's corruption and related scandals.

General Links and Information, Articles & Commentary for 2002

Articles & Commentary for 2004

Articles & Commentary for 2005

Articles & Commentary for 2006

Wikipedia also has an article on Jack Abramoff's Criminal Activities. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.