Court Tosses Conviction in Abramoff Affair

Ruling says feds were overzealous in case against GSA official
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2008 4:12 PM CDT
Jack Abramoff leaves Federal Court in Washington in this Jan. 3, 2006 file photo.    (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
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(Newser) – A key conviction in the Jack Abramoff scandal was reversed today, as a federal appeals court ruled that the Justice Department overreached in its prosecution of David Safavian. The onetime chief of staff at GSA provided inside information on government-owned properties to Abramoff; he was convicted of lying to multiple inquisitors about his relationship with the disgraced lobbyist, the AP reports.

But today’s ruling said the case against Safavian was faulty, in part because he wasn’t required to volunteer information. It also faulted the judge for blocking expert testimony on his behalf. Justice Department officials must now decide whether to pursue a new case. Safavian was the only person in the scandal to go to trial instead of accepting a plea, and he had faced 18 months behind bars.