Jack Abramoff hopes to 'reconcile' with tribes he defrauded

Convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff wants to "reconcile" with the tribes he defrauded even as he says he won't be able to repay $44 million in restitution.

Abramoff and his associates stole $10 million from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in California. Despite the negative publicity, the experience has made the tribe "stronger," Chairman Jeff Grubbe said.

“Something I’ve gained from that is, making the lobbyists accountable for the work they do for the tribe, spending time with them," Grubbe told The Palm Springs Desert Sun. "We (now) have great lobbyists, and they do a great job for this tribe. I don’t think we’ll fall into that type of situation ever again, because we’re very careful with who we bring on, who we work with.”

Part of Abramoff's plan was to install friendly leaders on the council in order to win more lobbying contracts. His team tried to oust the late former chairman Richard Milanovich, who had opposed working with Abramoff.

Abramoff now believes his attempt to influence the tribe's election was "improper." “It’s one of the great things I regret that I did," he told the paper.

Abramoff served four years in prison for defrauding the Agua Caliente Band and his other tribal clients. But he doesn't know whether he can repay the $44 million he owes his victims.

“I hope at some point in my life I can find a way to reconcile with the tribes I still love, and not be seen as a second Custer or Andrew Jackson among the people I am very fond of,” Abramoff told the paper.

In total, 21 people were convicted or pleaded guilty in connection with the scandal. One was former lobbyist Kevin Ring, whose conviction was upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday.

Get the Story:
Jack Abramoff warns reforms are needed to prevent scams like those he ran on tribes (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 1/28)
Dealing with Richard Milanovich's passing (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 1/27)

DC Circuit Decision:
US v. Ring (January 25, 2013)

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