Former Rep. Bob Ney Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison

The congressman pleaded guilty in October on charges of conspiracy and making false statements after being indicted for doling out political favors in exchange for campaign donations from former lobbyist Abramoff.

The 30-month sentence handed down by Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in the U.S. District Court in Washington was longer than then the 27 months requested by prosecutors. The judge also mandated that Ney serve two years probation after release from prison, commit to 200 hours of community service and pay a $6,000 fine.

Ney avoided a possible 10-year sentence by agreeing to a plea bargain. Huvelle said Ney deserved additional time in prison because of his “significant and serious abuse of public trust.”

“You violated a host of laws that you as a congressman are sworn to enforce and uphold,” said Huvelle. “Both your constituents and the public trusted you to represent them honestly.”

During the sentencing procedure, Ney made a short speech to the judge, apologizing to his family and constituents for his crimes.

“I will continue to take full responsibility, accept the consequences and battle the demons of addiction that are within me,” said Ney.

When Ney withdrew from his House re-election campaign in August while under suspicion for his Abramoff ties, he blamed his problems on alcohol addiction. Ney’s attorneys had filed letters with Huvelle from his doctors and former staffers describing the congressman’s alcohol problem.

The judge requested that Ney serve his time in Morgantown, W.Va., where the prison has an alcohol treatment facility. Should he complete the rehabilitation program, Ney could have his sentence reduced by a year.

Ney is the first congressman to be indicted in the lobbying scandal, in which he admitted to accepting free gifts, meals, trips to Scotland, and tickets to games and concerts from Abramoff and his associates.

The Abramoff scandal was a major issue in the 2006 midterm elections, in which the Democrats campaigned on an ethics reform platform and captured Ney’s vacated seat.

Abramoff is currently serving a five-year and 10-month sentence for fraud in the purchase of a Florida casino cruise liner. The scandal also has ensnared former White House official David Safavian, who was sentenced in October to 18 months in prison for lying and obstructing justice to protect Abramoff.