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Abramoff Scandal
Another member of Team Abramoff pleads guilty

Another member of Team Abramoff pleaded guilty today in federal court to a corruption scheme involving a Republican Congressman and the Tigua Tribe of Texas.

Neil Volz was a former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio). He later went to work with Jack Abramoff and lobbied on behalf of the Tiguas to reopen their casino in El Paso, which had been shut down by state officials.

According to documents filed in federal court, Volz did this "by corruptly influencing public officials, including members of the United States Congress."

The documents cite "Representative #1," who has been identified as Ney. In the summer of 2002, Ney agreed to insert language in an elections reform bill to reopen the Tigua Tribe's casino and the casino owned by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, also of Texas.

And in a new disclosure not previously reported anywhere, Ney "agreed to sign a letter opposing the creation of a commission to study Indian gaming" around the same time.

Ney was "glad to help," according to an e-mail cited, but not included, by one of the court documents.

The information presented by the Department of Justice today in court inches the probe even closer to Ney. According to federal prosecutors, Ney was in frequent contact with Volz about the tribal lobbying scheme.

At one point, Ney met with the Tigua Tribe to reassure tribal leaders that he was still supporting their case despite the failure of the casino legislation in the summer of 2002. He did so "after having solicited information from defendant Volz," prosecutors alleged.

A couple of months later, Ney again met with the Tigua Tribe, this time over the phone. Federal prosecutors allege he spoke with Volz before reassuring tribal leaders about the legislation.

Volz further advised Ney to keep the legislation secret "in order to avoid angering a member of the United States Senate opposed to gaming" by the Tigua Tribe, a court document states.

And in another new piece of information, Ney subsequently agreed to "seek support from a member of another committee of the House of Representatives" to help the Texas tribes. The document doesn't identify who the other member might have been.

The Tigua Tribe had hired Abramoff and his lobbying associates on a pro bono basis. But at Abramoff's direction, the tribe paid $4.2 million to Michael Scanlon for a grassroots political campaign.

The tribe was never told that Abramoff and Scanlon were partners and that Abramoff received a cut of the money paid to Scanlon. The tribe never received any significant work product for the $4.2 million.

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe didn't hire Abramoff but donated $50,000 to a charity that used the money to send Ney on a golf outing to Scotland. The tribe was never told the charity was controlled by Abramoff.

Court Documents:
Charge of Information | Guilty Plea | Factual Proffer

Relevant Links:
Rep. Bob Ney -