Ex-House aide may plead in case tied to Abramoff scandal
A former Bush administration aide who was indicted on corruption charges tied to the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be about to cut a deal with prosecutors.
Prosecutors filed a criminal information document on Thursday against Horace Cooper who worked at the Labor Department during the Bush administration and earlier as a legislative counsel to then-U.S. House Majority Leader Richard Armey. The filing, which is typically used in plea agreements, describes one misdemeanor count of falsely certifying that he did not receive gifts from a “prohibited source” while Cooper worked at the Labor Department.
Cooper’s lawyer, Ryan Malone, declined to comment but said a court hearing will be held next week in the case. Cooper had been charged in August with five counts, including conspiracy, concealing his actions, making false statements and obstruction of justice.
Cooper initially had entered a not guilty plea. The judge in the case last month threw out one of the false statement charges.
Prosecutors had accused Cooper of receiving valuable tickets to events like Washington Redskins football games and concerts, including Bruce Springsteen, between 1998 and 2000, when he worked for Armey. Cooper knew that Abramoff, his firm and their clients “had numerous issues pending before the U.S. House of Representatives,” the initial indictment said.
Cooper later moved to jobs within the Bush administration, including a position at the Labor Department where he allegedly tried to help an Abramoff client, CNMI Garment Manufacturer, deal with a pending investigation by the agency, prosecutors charged.
During that period, Cooper also allegedly solicited from Abramoff tickets to numerous events including professional basketball and baseball games, according to the prosecutors.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined comment.
Abramoff was sentenced in 2008 to serve four years in prison in a corruption scandal that rocked Washington’s power elite and helped Republicans lose control of Congress in 2006. He already is serving a nearly six-year term on unrelated charges.
Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria (Abramoff leaving court)