Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to three felony counts in Washington on Wednesday as part of a settlement with federal prosecutors, ending an intense, months-long negotiation over whether the Republican lobbyist would testify against his former colleagues, people involved with the case said.
Here's the scope:
Mr. Abramoff will enter separate pleas in both locations. But the deal reached with the Justice Department is all-encompassing, reducing the severe penalties Mr. Abramoff could have faced in either investigation, in exchange for his inside knowledge of certain lobbying work and legislative actions. One element of the deal is that any he can serve prison time in the two cases concurrently, although the sentencing will not take place until much further along in the investigation.
Details of the long-sought plea agreement were not finalized until after 9 p.m. on Monday night, following weeks of around-the-clock communications between numerous prosecutors in several Justice Department offices and lawyers for Mr. Abramoff. The deal, a so-called "global" arrangement because it encompasses separate prosecutions in Florida and Washington, comes less than a week before Mr. Abramoff was scheduled to stand trial in the Miami case.
Official Washington has been on edge for months awaiting word of Mr. Abramoff's legal future. Once a masterful Republican lobbyist with close ties to the former House majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay, he earned tens of millions of dollars representing Indian casino interests and farflung entities like the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Through a complicated web of financial arrangements, he helped funnel donations to his lawmaker friends' and their campaigns, and took members of Congress, mainly the Republicans in power, on lavish trips.
Now, after more than two years of investigations, prosecutors have developed a list of at least a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides and lobbyists whose work appears suspect and who are now at the core of the case. With Mr. Abramoff's cooperation, the Justice Department will have a potentially critical witness to alleged patterns of corruption or bribery within the Republican leadership ranks, which in some cases they believe also took the form of campaign donations and free meals at Mr. Abramoff's downtown restaurant, Signatures.
Emphasis added... More later.