January 20, 2007
'A significant and serious abuse of the public trust' - Former
congressman Ney gets 30 months in prison
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON – Bob Ney, the ex-congressman from Heath convicted in
a Capitol Hill corruption scandal, on Friday drew 30 months in
prison for his felonies, three months longer than prosecutors
U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle noted that Ney’s illegal
conduct spanned several years and that he involved young members
of his staff in his crimes.
“It wasn’t an isolated aberration,” she said, calling Ney’s
actions “a significant and serious abuse of the public trust.”
Huvelle also fined the former six-term Republican lawmaker
$6,000 and ordered two years of supervised release after
completion of his sentence.
He is likely to serve the time at a federal minimum security
prison in Morgantown, W.Va., where Huvelle recommended he be
placed in a residential alcohol rehabilitation program. The
prison is about 180 miles from Ney’s Ohio home.
The federal Bureau of Prisons will make the final decision where
he will be incarcerated, likely in a matter of days, a federal
prison official said.
Ney also must complete 200 hours of community service during his
supervised release, as well as abstain from alcohol during that
time, the judge ordered.
In a short statement, Ney said he took full responsibility for
his crimes and apologized to family, friends and constituents.
“I – stand here today with deep regret, and I stand here
sorrowful,” he said. Ney, who was divorced and remarried and has
a son and daughter, added that he “caused tremendous heartache
to each and every one of” his family members.
Ney vowed to “battle the demons of addiction which are within
me.” Huvelle said it was clear Ney has an alcohol problem, but
she added, “I don’t think that actually explains everything.”
The judge said it was obvious from letters submitted on Ney’s
behalf that he had “done good deeds on behalf of your
constituents.” She added she was “baffled” by “what went wrong.”
Prosecutors had recommended a 27-month sentence under a plea
agreement with Ney.
Ney appeared to be at ease throughout the proceedings. Entering
the courtroom, he walked up and shook hands with one of the FBI
agents who played a key role in the investigation.
Later, he exchanged laughter and smiles with several former
congressional aides and friends who accompanied him to the
After the sentence was handed down, he ignored a group of
reporters who asked him questions as he hustled out of the
courthouse into a waiting limousine.
Ney, 53, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy and making
false statements in connection with a bribery and fraud scheme
masterminded by convicted ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is in
He admitted accepting thousands of dollars in free meals,
drinks, trips, tickets to entertainment and sporting events and
other gifts. In return, he used his official position to do
favors for lobbyists and their clients.
Ney is the first lawmaker convicted in the ongoing federal probe
of corruption on Capitol Hill. Seven other lobbyists or
government officials, including a former Ney chief of staff,
have been convicted as a result of the investigation.
The scandal contributed to the loss of Republican control of the
House in the November election.
Ney’s seat was won by Democrat Zack Space of Dover, who
emphasized Ney’s ethics and legal troubles in his successful
campaign to succeed Ney in the Republican-leaning 18th House
After pleading guilty last year, Ney partially blamed his
behavior on alcoholism and checked into a treatment program.
Siding with federal prosecutors in a dispute over whether Ney
deserved a sentencing enhancement, Huvelle concluded that his
criminal activity involved five or more participants, requiring
a tougher sentence.
Ney will collect a congressional pension estimated at $29,000,
despite the conviction. Although the Senate has passed a bill
denying government pensions to convicted lawmakers and the House
is expected to follow suit, the legislation is not retroactive.
Ney could get time taken off his sentence for good behavior in
Under Bureau of Prisons rules, up to 54 days per year could be
taken off his sentence if he avoids violations while
“Today is obviously a very sad day for Mr. Ney and his family,
and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” Space said in
“This episode should also serve as a lesson that all legislators
should learn from. We have, simply put, an imperative to restore
the faith of the American people in their elected officials.”
The 18th House District includes Carroll, Coshocton, Harrison,
Holmes and Tuscarawas counties.