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June 6, 08

NEWS / Former Congressional Chief of Staff Pleads Guilty to Public Corruption Charge

WASHINGTON – A former chief of staff to a former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich for the Criminal Division announced today.

John C. Albaugh, 41, entered his plea to a one count criminal information today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, before Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle. At sentencing on Sept. 17, 2008, Albaugh faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and supervised release following his release from prison. As part of a plea agreement, Albaugh has agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the activities of former Washington, D.C., lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others.

According to plea documents, from 1993 through 2006, Albaugh was employed by a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Member), eventually becoming chief of staff for the Member in 1998. In the plea agreement, Albaugh admitted that from approximately March 2002 until approximately May 2004, he corruptly accepted a stream of things of value from one of Abramoff’s colleagues, his lobbying firm and their clients, in exchange for agreeing to take and taking official action on their behalf. Albaugh concealed his receipt of these things of value, which were in excess of the limits established by the U.S. House of Representatives, by failing to disclose the gifts on his required annual financial disclosure form filed on May 17, 2004. Albaugh left Congressional employment in 2006.

According to plea documents, the things of value Albaugh received as part of the conspiracy included more than $4,000 worth of sporting event tickets, concert tickets and meals. Albaugh also admitted that, as part of this corrupt relationship, he secured from one of Abramoff’s colleagues, Abramoff, their lobbying firm and their clients the use of suites at professional sporting events and facilities and catering at Abramoff’s restaurant, the costs of which were not timely reimbursed or disclosed as “in kind” campaign contributions in required filings with the Federal Election Commission.

To date, the ongoing investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff and his associates has resulted in thirteen guilty pleas by various lobbyists and public officials, as well as the conviction at trial of an additional public official.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Matthew L. Stennes of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, with assistance from Senior Trial Attorney Nathaniel B. Edmonds of the Fraud Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General.

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