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Abramoff's partner charged with conspiracy

Michael Scanlon, partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was charged Friday with conspiring to defraud Indian tribes the two were representing of millions of dollars.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Michael Scanlon, partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was charged Friday with conspiring to defraud Indian tribe clients of millions of dollars in a scheme that lavished golf trips, meals and campaign donations on a member of Congress.

In a one-count criminal information filed by the government, Scanlon was charged with conspiring with another lobbyist, who was not identified.

Although the document lists Scanlon's co-conspirator only as "Lobbyist A," it has been a matter of public record for more than a year that Scanlon and Abramoff had a fee-splitting arrangement and represented several Indian tribes.

Scanlon was once a top aide to former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who stepped down from his leadership post after being charged with violating campaign finance laws in Texas.

The filing of a criminal information, rather than an indictment, often means prosecutors have reached a plea agreement with a defendant.

Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra confirmed that a hearing has been scheduled for Monday in Scanlon's case, but would provide no details.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is investigating Abramoff and Scanlon and the more than $80 million they were paid between 2001 and 2004 by six Indian tribes with casinos.

In another investigation, Abramoff has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Florida on charges of fraud and conspiracy stemming from his role in the 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats.

Charges outlined in documents filed Friday allege that Lobbyist A solicited an Indian tribe in Mississippi in 1995 to provide lobbying services on taxes and other issues relating to tribal sovereignty.

The lobbyist then allegedly recommended that the tribe hire Scanlon's company, Capital Campaign Strategies, while concealing the fact the Lobbyist A would receive 50 percent of the profits from the tribe's payment to Scanlon.

The Mississippi tribe paid Scanlon's firm $14.8 million from June 2001 through April 2004, while Scanlon concealed from the tribe that 50 percent of the profit "was kicked back to Lobbyist A pursuant to their secret arrangement."

The court papers detailing the conspiracy charge say that Scanlon and Lobbyist A had identical kickback arrangements for tribes in Louisiana, Texas and Michigan.