Image: Ohio congressman Bob Ney
Bill Haber  /  AP file
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, shown in a file photo from January.
By Producer
NBC News
updated 10/12/2006 1:07:51 PM ET 2006-10-12T17:07:51

Two upcoming court dates will keep the pay-to-play, influence peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff back in the headlines just before the mid-term elections. Friday, Congressman Bob Ney pleads to two felony counts, and, two-weeks later, former White House official David Safavian will be sentenced.

On Friday, Oct. 13, Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney becomes a convicted felon. Ney is the only Member of Congress to be criminally charged in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. He is scheduled to enter formal guilty pleas Friday morning in federal court before Judge Ellen Huvelle to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of trips, meals and other gifts in exchange for taking official action on behalf of clients of Abramoff.

Ney was considered one of team Abramoff's "champions" on Capitol Hill.

Prosecutors have recommended Ney receive a sentence of 27-months in prison.

Investigation continues
The House committee Ney once chaired announced it is now investigating one of the "official acts" Ney admitted performing to benefit Abramoff. The House Administration committee is looking into the multi-million dollar wireless contract Ney approved in 2002 for Foxcom, an Abramoff client, to outfit House office buildings with wireless receivers.

On Oct. 27 -- less than two weeks before the Nov. 7 election -- David Safavian, a former White House and General Services Administration official and Abramoff friend, is scheduled to be sentenced for his conviction, in June, on lying and obstruction-of-justice charges relating to a golf junket to Scotland he took IN 2002 with Abramoff, Ney and former Christian Coalition head, Ralph Reed.

Funds from Indian tribes solicited by Abramoff were used to pay for that trip. Prosecutors have said, Safavian "abused the public trust placed in him by using his position of authority at GSA to further the interests of his close personal friend, Jack Abramoff." They have recommended that Safavian receive three-years imprisonment. His lawyer has asked the judge to be lenient and sentence him to probation, home detention, and/or community service.

Just after the election, on Nov. 15, Abramoff himself will report to federal prison on his own guilty pleas relating to the Florida based SunCruz casino scandal. Abramoff and his partner Adam Kidan pleaded guilty to defrauding lenders of more than $60 million. Abramoff has been sentenced to more than five-years in prison. He is awaiting sentencing in the Washington influence peddling scandal. He will serve both sentences concurrently.

Joel Seidman is an NBC News producer based in Washington, DC.

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