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February 5, 09

NEWS / FORMER LOBBYIST PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT HONEST SERVICES FRAUD


WASHINGTON Ė A former lobbyist pleaded guilty today to conspiring with others to commit honest services fraud, Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division announced.

Todd A. Boulanger, 37, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts in the District of Columbia. According to court documents, Boulanger worked as a lobbyist from 1999 through 2004 with Jack Abramoff and others. Boulanger, Abramoff, and other lobbyists working with them, sought to advance the interests of groups and companies they represented by lobbying federal legislative and executive branch officials. According to court documents, Boulanger admitted that he, Abramoff and others established contacts with federal legislative and executive branch officials who could use their influence and positions to take official actions favorable to Boulanger and the other lobbyists. After establishing contacts with certain public officials, Boulanger admitted that he, Abramoff, and others offered and gave numerous things of value to these public officials in an effort to reward them for actions they had taken, to influence the public officials in their official actions, and to make them more receptive to requests for official actions in the future.

Boulanger admitted that the things of value he and others provided as part of this conspiracy included all-expenses-paid travel, tens of thousands of dollars-worth of tickets to professional sporting events, concerts and other events, and frequent and expensive meals and drinks at Washington, D.C.-area restaurants and bars. According to court documents, the public officials, in turn, agreed to take and took favorable official actions, which included the insertion or protection of legislative appropriations; the insertion, protection, removal or prevention of legislative amendments; and lobbying by the public officials of other legislative and executive branch officials to take or abstain from taking official action. According to court documents, Boulanger admitted that he, Abramoff and others attempted to conceal their practice of providing things of value to public officials.

Specifically, according to the plea agreement, Boulanger sought the assistance of a staff member who worked on the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. One of Boulangerís clients was an equipment rental company, on whose behalf Boulanger and another lobbyist, James Hirni, sought to have two legislative amendments inserted into the Federal Highway Bill in 2003. Boulanger admitted that, with his knowledge and approval, Hirni and another individual provided an all-expenses-paid trip on Oct. 18 and 19, 2003, to game one of the Baseball World Series in New York City to the committee staff member and to Trevor Blackann, a former staff member to a U.S. Senator. On Oct. 22, 2003, Boulanger and Hirni provided information about the amendments they were seeking to the committee staff member and Blackann. Later, after one of the amendments had been inserted into the Senate version of the Federal Highway Bill, Boulanger, Hirni, Blackann, the committee staff member and another individual took steps to protect that amendment.

Boulanger also admitted that he and others provided a stream of things of value to a different Senate staff member in order to influence that individual to take official action favorable to Boulangerís lobbying firm and one of Abramoffís Native American tribal clients. From March 2002 through March 2004, Boulanger and others provided more than $25,000 worth of tickets, meals and drinks to the Senate staff member. During the same time period, the Senate staff member provided and agreed to provide official actions sought by Boulanger and others on repeated occasions. In addition, Boulanger admitted that he provided more than $10,000 worth of tickets, meals and drinks to the legislative director for a U.S. Senator. Boulanger admitted he met the legislative director on July 16, 2002, and provided the things of value for 20 months following their first meeting.

The case is part of the ongoing investigation into the activities of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates. Abramoff pleaded guilty in January 2006 to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services fraud and tax evasion. Abramoff was sentenced in September 2008 to 48 months in prison and is cooperating in the investigation. Both Hirni and Blackann have pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme and are cooperating with the investigation. In all, seventeen individuals, including lobbyists and public officials, have pleaded guilty, been convicted at trial, or are awaiting trial as a result of the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys M. Kendall Day and Peter C. Sprung of the Public Integrity Section, headed by Section Chief William M. Welch II. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI.

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