The Times-Reporter

February 9, 2007

Ney must report to minimum-security prison by March 1

Copley Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – A federal judge has ordered former Ohio Rep. Bob Ney, convicted in a congressional bribery scandal last year, to report to a federal minimum security prison in West Virginia in less than three weeks.

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen S. Huvelle issued an order Wednesday for Ney to surrender himself to Morgantown federal prison by 2 p.m. March 1.

Ney, a Heath Republican, was sentenced to 30 months in prison Jan. 19 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and making false statements in connection with doing favors for lobbyists in return for gifts.

The six-term lawmaker admitted to accepting thousands of dollars’ worth of trips, free drinks and meals, tickets to sporting events, and campaign donations from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others.

The silver lining in the order for Ney, 53, is that the Bureau of Prisons agreed to assign him to Morgantown, a minimum security work camp about 180 miles from his home in Ohio.

Although Huvelle recommended that Ney be incarcerated at Morgantown, located in a mountainous region of north central West Virginia, the final decision was up to prison officials.

William E. Lawler III, Ney’s attorney, said the judge’s order means prison officials have agreed to Morgantown.

Morgantown is an all-male facility that housed 1,245 inmates as of Thursday. As a minimum security institution, it has dormitory housing, a relatively low staff-to-inmate ratio and no fences, according to prison officials.

Ney will spend his first week behind bars attending an orientation program designed to teach him the rules and introduce him to prison officials, Truman said.

His fellow inmates at the prison will include Richard Hatch, the celebrated winner of the “Survivor” reality television show in 2000. Hatch has been serving time in Morgantown since his conviction for income tax evasion last year.

Inmates at Morgantown typically are given jobs to help clean and maintain the prison. They also are able to participate in rehabilitation programs.

Ney, who has partially blamed alcohol abuse for his violation of the law, also requested entry into a residential alcohol rehabilitation program at Morgantown. Lawler said that is a separate decision for prison officials to make.

Unlike some convicted lawmakers, such as former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham of California, who was convicted of bribery last year, Ney is being allowed to deliver himself to the prison rather than being taken there by U.S. marshals.

U.S. Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said decisions about how a convict is transported to prison are made on a case-by-case basis. It’s “not unusual” for someone with felonies similar to Ney’s to be allowed to self-surrender, he said.

Lawler declined to comment on Ney’s current activities except to say, “He’s doing fine.”