Fraser Verrusio begged for mercy. He said he was sorry for the burden he put on his family. He asked the judge not to send him to jail.
Verrusio, a former House of Representatives transportation committee official, faced up to six months in prison on corruption charges tied to his acceptance of gifts in a lobbying scandal. A jury found Verrusio guilty in February.
A Justice Department prosecutor, David Harbach II, told Judge Richard Roberts of Washington federal district court that imprisonment would send a message to Capitol Hill.
In the end, Roberts today ordered Verrusio to spend the afternoon in jail and sentenced him to two years of supervised release, capping what the former policy official called a “tragic situation” in his life.
The strain of the prosecution, Verrusio said in court, has brought he and his wife to “the brink of sustainability.” Now a convicted felon, Verrusio said he hopes one day to become a wage-earner again.
A lawyer for Verrusio, Joshua Berman of Katten Muchin Rosenman, played down the significance of the crime, calling it minor in the scheme of other corruption offenses. Berman spoke at length about Verrusio’s past, detailing charitable deeds.
“Mr. Verrusio, your honor, has been punished already,” Berman said. Berman had earlier urged Roberts to sentence Verrusio to probation.
Verrusio, prosecutors said, accepted gifts, failed to disclose them on financial disclosure reports and then lied about it. Among the gifts: tickets to a World Series game in New York in 2003.
Prosecutors said lobbyists with an interest in a federal highway bill provided the gifts to Verrusio. One of the lobbyists who helped arrange the trip worked with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the equipment rental company was a client at Abramoff’s firm.