Canton Repository

April 29, 2006

Ney denies extension for charges

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, who is under investigation as part of a federal probe of bribery and corruption in Congress, declined to give federal prosecutors additional time to file charges against him when he refused to extend a legal deadline in a Miami-based criminal investigation this week.

The five-year window for filing charges expired Thursday without Ney’s agreeing to a second extension.

So far, there is no indication that Ney, R-Heath, has been indicted in connection with the fraudulent purchase of the SunCruz casino boats in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 2000.

Ney has not been charged with any crime, and he has denied any wrongdoing since his ties to convicted lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon made headlines in late 2004.

Abramoff and Adam Kidan, a New York businessman, both pleaded guilty to defrauding lenders in their acquisition of the SunCruz gambling line.

Ney, who received campaign contributions from Abramoff and Kidan, has been under investigation for inserting comments in the Congressional Record in early and late 2000 that allegedly put pressure on then-owner Gus Boulis to sell SunCruz to Kidan and Abramoff.

In a statement issued Friday, Ney’s office said the congressman on Oct. 22 voluntarily agreed to extend the statute of limitations for six months. That extension expired Thursday.

“Congressman Ney remains eager to refute the baseless and unfair allegations reported in the media and he will continue to cooperate with inquiries into the conduct of Mr. Abramoff and his associates,” the statement said.

A source said Justice Department officials asked Ney for a second extension and he refused. Justice Department officials declined to comment.

Under the statute, prosecutors are barred from bringing charges more than five years after an alleged crime occurred.

But a former federal prosecutor said the passing of the deadline does not mean Ney is in the clear.

Roscoe C. Howard Jr., who served as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia during the first term of President Bush, said it’s possible federal prosecutors issued a sealed indictment against Ney that has not yet been made public.

Another possibility is that the Justice Department could be planning to charge Ney with a related crime that occurred less than five years ago, Howard said.

Ney also faces the possibility of indictment in a separate investigation focusing on Abramoff and Scanlon’s scheme to defraud Indian tribes, among other possible crimes.

Abramoff and Scanlon, as well as Tony Rudy, a one-time aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, implicated Ney in plea agreements as a lawmaker who did legislative favors for lobbyists in return for a free golf trip to Scotland, free meals and tickets to sporting events, campaign contributions and other benefits.

Ney has spent more than $232,000 on attorneys who are trying to convince prosecutors he did nothing illegal.