The former head of a conservative-leaning advocacy organization was sentenced today to four years probation for obstructing the Senate’s investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff, the Department of Justice announced today.
Italia Federici, co-founder of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, pleaded guilty in June to obscuring the extent of her relationship with Abramoff and J. Steven Griles, former deputy secretary of the Interior Department, during hearings and interviews before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in 2005.
Griles, who was involved with Federici, pleaded guilty in March to lying to Senate investigators about his relationship with Abramoff. In June, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle sentenced Griles to 10 months in prison.
According to court documents, Federici introduced Abramoff to Griles in 2001. Between that time and May 2003, Abramoff and his clients donated a total of $500,000 to CREA. Federici became a conduit between the two men, shuttling information and documents related to Abramoff's clients to Griles. When Griles entered his guilty plea last spring, he admitted that had afforded Abramoff “more credibility as a lobbyist” and “distinguished him from other lobbyists” because of his relationship with Federici. She downplayed that relationship during Senate hearings in 2005, but later admitted to lying to investigators.
Huvelle spared Federici prison time, granting the government's request for leniency based on her cooperation in the Abramoff probe. Federici, prosecutors said, provided investigators with detailed information about Griles' corrupt relationship with Abramoff. Huvelle did, however, order Federici to pay more than $74,000 for income tax evasion.
Abramoff is serving a 70-month prison sentence for conspiracy and fraud charges in connection to his dealings with a Florida casino. He is awaiting sentencing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where he pleaded guilty to corruption, fraud, conspiracy and tax charges. So far, the Abramoff probe has resulted in 11 convictions.