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Abramoff Buddies With Prosecutors, Prisoners

Jack Abramoff (Credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)Jack Abramoff was not your average lobbyist. And according to prosecutors and Abramoff's attorneys, he's also been an extraordinary asset to federal investigators. In filings yesterday, they argue that Abramoff ought to get a break when he's sentenced next week. Abramoff pleaded guilty in 2006 to defrauding his Indian tribe clients of millions of dollars and public corruption charges based on his favor machine: a stream of free meals, gifts, tickets and payments to lawmakers, staffers and government officials in exchange for help with his clients. He's been cooperating with investigators since 2004.

Abramoff's cooperation -- more than 3,000 hours over four years, involving about 100 different investigators -- "must place Mr. Abramoff near the top of all Government cooperators," his lawyer argued. Prosecutors say that Abramoff provided valuable help (combing through e-mails, sitting for interviews, suggesting new areas for investigation) in prosecuting 12 others as part of the investigation, 10 of whom were public officials (PDF). They also allude to other "ongoing investigations" with "other public officials." In their filing (PDF), the prosecutors also go into detail (PDF) as to how exactly Abramoff helped with certain cases.

For all that help, the government recommends that Abramoff be sentenced to five years, four months in prison. That's down from the minimum of nine years based on the crimes to which he pleaded guilty. Abramoff entered prison in November of 2006 for a separate crime (defrauding investors in a casino cruise line venture), and prosecutors want his sentence to extend from that date, meaning he'd be released by early 2012 at the latest. He could be out sooner for good behavior.

In the meantime, when he's not visiting with investigators, Abramoff (a former movie producer) has been keeping busy in other ways. From the AP:

In prison, Abramoff has focused on studying Judaism and helping fellow inmates, friends said. He has taught classes entitled "Parenting from a Distance," "Modern Marvels," "Cinema Studies," and "The Holocaust in Films," his attorneys said. He is currently teaching a motion picture theory class.

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