Figure in Abramoff scandal gets a year in prison

In this Monday, June 12, 2006 file photo, David Safavian leaves the U.S. District Courthouse, in Washington.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The former top procurement official in George W. Bush's administration was sentenced Friday to a year in prison for lying about his relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman told David Safavian that he must be punished for lying to investigators who were looking into the Abramoff scandal.

Friedman postponed Safavian's reporting date for his prison sentence until after his pregnant wife delivers their new baby. Safavian also could choose to appeal.

Safavian provided Abramoff with information on two pieces of government-controlled property the lobbyist wanted, and Safavian accepted a golfing junket to Scotland largely paid for by Abramoff.

On Thursday at the same federal courthouse where Safavian was sentenced, prosecutors were dealt a setback in another Abramoff-related case, that of ex-lobbyist Kevin Ring, which ended in a mistrial.

On Friday, Safavian and his wife each made tearful pleas to the judge not to send the former Bush administration official to prison.

Safavian said he never intended to break the law, while acknowledging that "I am the poster child" for staying in "the gray areas of ethics."

"I know I have made stupid decisions," said Safavian.

Friedman said a prison term was necessary to send a government-wide message about the need to adhere to the highest legal standards.

"A light bulb should have gone on" when Abramoff paid for most of a weeklong golfing junket to Scotland and England, the judge admonished Safavian.

Safavian's sentencing follows a trial last December where he was convicted of obstructing an investigation by the inspector general at the General Services Administration, of lying to the FBI and a GSA ethics officer and of making a false statement on his financial disclosure form.