A federal Judge Wednesday sentenced former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring to 20 months in prison for his role in the Washington lobbying scandal.
Department of Justice officials originally had recommended a 17-to-22 year sentence, sparking protests from Ring and editorial writers that prosecutors were retaliating against him for exercising his constitutional right to trial. That sentence would have put Ring behind bars far longer than any other defendant, including Abramoff himself.
Although Huvelle last month rebuked the Justice Department in an opinion that scaled back Ring’s sentencing range, on Wednesday she rejected Ring’s request for probation in lieu of prison. Prison is necessary “to respect the jury’s verdict and promote respect for the law,” Huvelle said. Ring was also ordered to serve 30 months on probation.
Still, Huvelle’s 20-month sentence is much less than the 4 years 9 months she concluded last month that Ring could receive under Federal Sentencing Guidelines calculations. And it is less than the 50 months the Justice Department later sought for Ring after Huvelle’s order. And it is more than two decades less than the upper range originally sought by the Justice Department.
“I found a ridiculous system full of gray areas and I manipulated it,” Ring said through heavy tears at his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
Ring was convicted last year of giving expensive restaurant meals and tickets to sporting and music events to public officials to influence their actions in favor of his and Abramoff’s lobbying clients. He was not accused of directly pocketing big money from the fraud. Ring got the same amount of prison time as chief conspirator Michael Scanlon, who was sentenced to 20 months incarceration and was convicted of stealing $20 million.
Abramoff and Scanlon were convicted of, among other things, a kickback scheme that defrauded Indian tribe lobbying clients of tens of millions of dollars. Abramoff and Scanlon agreed to pay restitution for their crimes of approximately $20 million each. Both pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors in their ongoing criminal probe. Abramoff received leniency from the government and reduced his sentence by 75 percent.
Ring remains free pending appeal.