Image: Jack Abramoff
Gerald Herbert  /  AP
In this Jan. 3, 2006, photo, lobbyist Jack Abramoff leaves federal court in Washington.
msnbc.com news services
updated 9/4/2008 4:32:51 PM ET 2008-09-04T20:32:51

Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for a corruption scandal that shook up Washington's power elite and contributed to the Republican loss of control in Congress.

Judge Ellen Huvelle issued the sentence on conspiracy and other charges after federal prosecutors recommended leniency due to Abramoff's cooperation in pursuing corruption cases against lawmakers and former administration officials. He faced a maximum of 11 years under a plea deal reached in 2006.

With Abramoff's help, the Justice Department has won corruption convictions against a parade of lawmakers, Bush administration figures and Capitol Hill aides.

Abramoff admitted trading luxury golf junkets, expensive meals, skybox tickets and other gifts for political favors. The scandal shook Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Capitol Hill.

Huvelle said the sentence would be served at the same time as Abramoff's current prison time. He was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison in March 2006 on unrelated fraud charges in the purchase of a Florida casino cruise line. Abramoff began serving the term in a federal prison in Maryland in November 2006.

Abramoff apologized to the court and said he was a changed man.

"I come before you as a broken man," Abramoff said. "I'm not the same man who happily and arrogantly engaged in a lifestyle of political and business corruption."

Abramoff wrote earlier even he is shocked to look back on what his career had become. But he said he was "not a bad man" and earlier had pleaded for leniency.

"It is hard to see the exact moment that I went over the line but, looking backwards, it is amazing for me to see how far I strayed and how I did not see it at the time," Abramoff wrote. "So much of what happens in Washington stretches the envelope, skirts the spirit of the rules, and lives in the loopholes. But even by those standards, I blundered farther than even those excesses would allow."

Abramoff is already serving a nearly six-year prison sentence for a fraudulent Florida casino deal.

Abramoff said his cooperation has been extensive. Not only did he confirm what prosecutors knew, he said he also offered new leads and tips, pointed them in different directions and spent countless hours meeting with investigators. Several Capitol Hill aides and powerful political figures have pleaded guilty because of his cooperation.

He said he has spent the first two years in prison reflecting on his actions.

"I see that my crimes all had the same cause — my shortsighted and selfish view that the ends could justify the means," he wrote earlier. "I am not a bad man (although to read all the news articles one would think I am Osama bin Laden), but I did many bad things."

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters is included in this report.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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