WASHINGTON–Kevin A. Ring, a former lobbyist who worked with Jack A. Abramoff, was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in prison for his role in a scheme to corrupt public officials by providing an illegal stream of things of value, including vacations, employment for a congressman’s wife, meals, drinks, and high-priced tickets to exclusive concerts and sporting events.
Ring, 41, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in the District of Columbia. Judge Huvelle also sentenced Ring to 30 months of supervised release following his prison term.
On Nov. 15, 2010, a jury convicted former lobbyist Ring of corrupting public officials. The jury found Ring guilty on one count of conspiring to corrupt congressional and executive branch officials by providing things of value to them and their staff members in order to induce or reward those who took official actions benefitting Ring and his clients. In addition, Ring was convicted of one count of paying a gratuity to a public official and three counts of honest services wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to deprive U.S. citizens of their right to the honest services of certain public officials. The jury acquitted Ring on three counts of honest services fraud. A previous federal jury failed to reach a verdict in the case and the court declared a mistrial.
According to evidence presented at trial, as a lobbyist working in Washington, D.C., Ring solicited and obtained business throughout the United States, including with Native American tribal governments operating and interested in operating gambling casinos. Trial testimony established that Ring sought to further his clients’ interests by lobbying public officials in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. Evidence at trial established Ring to be the “COO of Team Abramoff,” and at one of his sentencing hearings, the court also found that evidence at trial established that Ring was a supervisor of the conspiracy.
Ring and his co-conspirators identified public officials who would perform official actions that would assist Ring and his clients, and then groomed those public officials by providing things of value with the intent of making those public officials more receptive to requests on behalf of their clients in the future. These things of value included all-expenses-paid travel, meals, drinks, golf outings, tickets to professional sporting events, concerts and other events, and an employment opportunity for the wife of a congressman. According to evidence introduced at trial, these things of value were often billed to Ring’s and Abramoff’s clients. Evidence established that Ring and his co-conspirators engaged in this illegal conduct with current and former congressional staff members, including chiefs of staff, as well as officials at the Department of Justice and the White House.
Evidence at trial demonstrated the nature of Ring’s lobbying efforts and his attempts to corrupt and reward public officials. In one e-mail message, Ring instructed his co-conspirators to “thank your friends on the Hill and in the Administration. In fact, thank them over and over again this week – preferably for long periods of time and at expensive establishments.” On another occasion, Ring described to a co-conspirator lobbyist what he expected of a public official who had attended a sporting event: “Glad he got a chance to relax. Now he can pay us back.” Similarly, Ring e-mailed a co-conspirator public official and stated: “You are going to eat free off our clients. Need to get us some [appropriations] money.” Testimony at trial from Ring’s co-conspirators described Ring joking about corrupting public officials by saying, “Hello quid, where’s the pro quo.”
Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Ring corruptly sought assistance from public officials on numerous client projects, such as appropriations and authorizations, congressional letters to executive branch entities, as well as meetings and other legislative and official actions. Evidence at trial showed that Ring corruptly sought, among other actions, $14 million in congressional transportation appropriations and an additional $7 million from the Department of Justice to build a jail.
Ring remains charged with an additional two counts of obstructing justice. Those charges stem from alleged efforts by Ring to thwart criminal and congressional investigations by preventing the reporting of his criminal conduct to federal authorities. The court severed those two counts and Ring is scheduled to stand trial at a later date. Ring is presumed innocent of these charges until proven guilty in a court of law.
To date, 20 individuals, including lobbyists and public officials, have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial in connection with the investigation into the activities of Abramoff and his associates. Abramoff pleaded guilty in January 2006 to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services fraud and tax evasion. He was sentenced in September 2008 to 48 months in prison.