A former House of Representatives staff member who accepted a paid trip to a World Series game from a lobbyist caught up in the Jack Abramoff investigation was found guilty today in a public corruption case in Washington.
The jury found Fraser Verrusio guilty of conspiring to accept an illegal gratuity, accepting an illegal gratuity and making a false statement in failing to report gifts on his 2003 financial disclosure statement, the Justice Department said.
Judge Richard Roberts presided over the 10-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The jury deliberated for three days. Verrusio was a former policy director at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“Accepting gifts from lobbyists and then lying about those gifts on financial disclosure forms is simply not acceptable,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said in a formal statement.
The assistant director of the FBI’s Washington field office, James McJunkin, said that Verrusio’s crime “cuts against the thousands of government workers who live their lives by the ethical code they pledged to uphold.”
Verrusio’s lawyers, a defense team that included Katten Muchin Rosenman partners Joshua Berman and Glen Donath in Washington, declined to comment on the verdict.
The prosecution team, which included Justin Shur, deputy chief of the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, presented evidence at trial that Verrusio accepted the World Series trip with the understanding he would provide official assistance to a lobbyist’s client. The trip to New York City included round-trip airfare, lodging and a steak dinner, according to DOJ.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 6. The conspiracy and false statement charges each carry a maximum prison of five years behind bars.
DOJ officials said 20 lobbyists and public officials have either pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial tied the investigation of the lobbying activity of Jack Abramoff and his associates. In the Verrusio case, a lobbyist who helped arrange the World Series trip worked with Abramoff.