A former lobbyist indicted in the Jack Abramoff investigation pled guilty today to corruption charges before Judge Richard Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
James Hirni admitted to allegations that he had conspired to commit honest services fraud in 2003, when, while lobbying on behalf of a construction equipment rental company, he plied two congressional staffers with a free trip to the World Series.
Hirni’s clients were attempting to tack amendments on to the federal highway bill that would push states to rent, rather than buy, construction equipment and force them to hire companies with high liability insurance coverage.
Of the two staffers, one, Trevor Blackann, was a legislative aide to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) who on the highway bill’s committee. The other, unnamed staffer worked on the House committee overseeing the bill. Blackann plead guilty in November to failing to report thousands of dollars in gifts on his tax returns.
According to Hirini’s plea, the two staffers traveled to New York, where they were chaufered around the city in a sport utility vehicle and were treated to everything from the game tickets to a $600 evening excursion at a gentleman’s club. The bill was discussed during the trip, and the amendments were later added. Later, both Blackann and the other staffer both worked to keep the amendments intact.