I didn't see mention of this today and thought those interested in the Jack Abramoff scandal might like to know that Gail Norton's onetime top assistant at Interior J. Steven Griles just got 10 months in jail for lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with Abramoff. More after the jump.
Griles, in a tearful appeal, asked Judge Ellen S. Huvelle of Federal District Court for leniency. He acknowledged that he had misled Congress on one narrow matter and said that his guilty plea had ruined his livelihood and his reputation.
Judge Huvelle, who has overseen many of the cases involving Mr. Abramoff, was not moved. She doubled the amount of prison time recommended by federal prosecutors and added three years of supervised release, 100 hours of public service and a $30,000 fine.
"Even now you continue to minimize and try to excuse your conduct," Judge Huvelle said.
"The testimony you gave to Congress was untrue," she added. "You consistently mischaracterized the nature and extent of your dealings with Mr. Abramoff."
Griles will be joining former Ohio Representative Bob Ney in prison. (They should soon be joined by California's John Doolittle, given the developments in his case recently.)
This month, Italia Federici, the founder of a Republican environmental advocacy group and a sometime romantic partner of Mr. Griles, pleaded guilty in federal court to tax evasion and lying to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
According to court testimony, Ms. Federici introduced Mr. Griles to Mr. Abramoff in early 2001, between Mr. Griles’s nomination to the Interior Department position and his Senate confirmation.
Mr. Griles and Mr. Abramoff met and corresponded regularly in the next three years, while Mr. Abramoff was also contributing to Ms. Federici’s group, known as the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. Mr. Griles’s superior at the Interior Department during President Bush’s first term, Secretary Gail A. Norton, was a co-founder of the group in the late 1990s.
In the plea agreement, Mr. Griles admitted to concealing that he had been introduced to Mr. Abramoff by Ms. Federici.
The government did not contend that Mr. Griles accepted money or did any favors for Mr. Abramoff. But the lobbyist bragged in one e-mail message that Mr. Griles was "our guy" at the Interior Department and "the one who gets everything done."
Abramoff had a lot of guys. In addition to Griles and Ney, suspicions are raised about his ties to current Reps John Doolittle, Tom Feeney and Don Young, and former Reps J.D. Hayworth and everyone's favorite bug killer Tom Delay. This is by no means a complete list; you can't list Abramoff's buddies without a scorecard. Whatever the future brings in terms of prosecutions, today we can enjoy a measure of justice as Griles prepares for prison.