File photo of Jack Abramoff in Miami last August
WASHINGTON (AP) - Once-powerful lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud, clearing the way for him to cooperate in a massive government investigation of influence peddling involving members of Congress.
"Words will not ever be able to express my sorrow and my profound regret for all my actions and mistakes," Abramoff said when he rose to address the judge. "I hope I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and those I've wronged or caused to suffer."
Abramoff faces 30 years in prison and is expected to cooperate in the wide-ranging corruption investigation believed to be focusing on as many as 20 members of Congress and aides.
Court papers released Tuesday detailed lavish gifts and contributions that Abramoff gave an unnamed House member, identified elsewhere as Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee, in return for Ney's agreement to use his office to aid Abramoff clients.
To each of the three charges, Abramoff said, "I plead guilty, your honor."
U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle and lawyers in the case referred to restitution possibly reaching $25 million in the case.
Abramoff agreed with the judge when she said that he had engaged in a conspiracy involving "corruption of public officials." The lobbyist also agreed when she said he and others had engaged in a scheme to provide campaign contributions, trips and other items "in exchange for certain official acts."