Former DeLay Aide Pleads Guilty in Abramoff Inquiry
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
And I'm Michele Norris. A top aide to former House majority leader Tom DeLay has pleaded guilty in the investigation involving convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Tony Rudy is the fourth person to plead and the first to admit taking money and gifts while working on Capitol Hill. NPR's Peter Overby reports.
PETER OVERBY: Rudy's plea hearing was hastily scheduled this morning at federal district court in Washington. Rudy, once a well-connected aide to a powerful lawmaker, came to court in a D.C. standard charcoal gray suit, white shirt and red striped tie. His shoulders sagged. He kept his hands clasped in front of him. His eyes had a look of exhaustion. And when Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle asked him how he pleaded, he answered weakly, guilty, Your Honor. Rudy pleaded guilty to just one count of conspiracy, but it's a conspiracy that covers several years, as Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor, points out.
RANDALL ELIASON: He is being charged with being on both sides of this pattern of corruption. The first part of his conduct was while he was a public official in the representative's office and taking the gifts and the bribes and doing official acts in exchange. And then after he leaves, he's on the other end of the transaction, paying people off who are still public officials.
OVERBY: And, as Eliason says, it takes the investigation to a new level.
ELIASON: What you can say about this plea is that it brings the corruption into DeLay's office, but it doesn't directly implicate him.
OVERBY: This afternoon, DeLay's lawyer, Richard Cullen, held a conference call with reporters. He said he gave prosecutors about 100 emails from DeLay's office pertaining to Abramoff. He also said prosecutors have never asked DeLay for anything, and Cullen himself hasn't talked with them since last fall. Cullen described DeLay as very disappointed that aides would be involved in conduct like this. But he said it doesn't touch DeLay personally.
RICHARD CULLEN: Mr. DeLay has never taken official position, written a letter urging action, or cast a vote that was not based on his principles.
OVERBY: Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.
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