DOJ Tells Abramoff to pay Indian Tribes, not his bills

May 22, 2009


Convicted felon Jack Abramoff should be using his $520,189.00 tax refund to help pay back the millions of dollars he defrauded Indian tribes of, not to pay his personal attorneys, the Justice Department told federal Judge Ellen S. Huvelle.  

According to the Washington Post:
Under the restitution order by U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, Abramoff and former associate Michael Scanlon still owe more than $23 million to the tribes. Abramoff was not expected to be able to make payments until after he got out of prison, the government said. However, "Mr. Abramoff was required by statute to apply the value of that refund to his restitution obligation, notwithstanding that the money was received while he was in prison and before the payment schedule had taken effect," the Justice Department filing said.

Abramoff admitted that he and Scanlon, a onetime press aide to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), ran a kickback scheme that defrauded the tribes. Abramoff told tribes to hire Scanlon's public relations firm at inflated prices and the two split the profits. Huvelle sentenced Abramoff last year to four years in prison for fraud and influence-peddling. He had already been serving a term of five years on a related conviction in 2006.

Scanlon also has pleaded guilty but has not yet been sentenced.
(links added)

The DOJ filed a Motion For Immediate Modification of Restitution Order to prevent the former CNMI lobbyist from spending any more large amounts of money until he pays back the Indian Tribes. From the motion:
Yesterday, the government learned that Mr. Abramoff received a substantial refund from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), a large portion of which he and his spouse spent before informing the government of its receipt. For the reasons set forth below, we ask the Court to immediately modify Mr. Abramoff’s restitution order to (1) order Mr. Abramoff and his family to cease spending whatever remains from the IRS refund; (2) require Mr. Abramoff to provide an accounting of the payments he has made; (3) modify the current restitution order to require Mr. Abramoff to provide immediate notice to the Court of any additional assets or debts he or his immediate family receives or incurs which are valued at $2,500 or more; (4) require Mr. Abramoff to obtain Court approval prior to he or his immediate family spending sums of $2,500 or more.
The motion stated that Mr. Abramoff owed $23,134,695.00,  a portion of which he owed jointly with fellow lobbyist Michael Scanlon.  The original restitution order stated that Mr. Abramoff must start paying the tribes back after his release from prison, and he had to notify the government within 30 days of "material changes in economic circumstances."

From the motion:
On May 20, 2009, counsel for Mr. Abramoff advised the government that Mr. Abramoff and Mrs. Abramoff had received a refund from the IRS totaling $520,189. Based on what we learned from defense counsel on May 20, it appears that the following occurred. Around May 4, 2009, Mr. Abramoff’s wife received the refund check from the IRS. They advise us that, during the ensuing two weeks, Mrs. Abramoff allegedly paid the following non-restitution creditors:
• $104,000 toward accounting expenses owed to Mendelson & Mendelson (Mr. Abramoff’s accounting firm);
• $87,500 to repay loans from Mr. Abramoff’s father;
• $75,000 toward legal expenses owed to McDermott, Will & Emery, LLP;
• $50,000 toward back taxes owed to the State of Maryland;
• $47,000 toward a credit card balance held by Bank of America;
• $25,000 toward legal expenses owed to Zuckerman Spaeder, LLP;
• $22,000 toward property taxes;
• $5,000 to repay a loan from Michael Herson;
• $5,000 toward tuition expenses at Hebrew Academy; and
• $1,500 to repay a loan from the Franco Foundation.
I cannot even imagine having bills like this, never mind having the money to pay them! Some of these bills are more than my annual salary.  How do you get a tax refund that is half a million dollars?

The government attorneys said. "The restitution order is treated as a tax lien in favor of the United States on all property and rights to property of Mr. Abramoff." They asked the court to:
(1) order Mr. Abramoff and his family to cease spending whatever remains from the IRS refund; (2) require Mr. Abramoff to provide an accounting documenting the nature of the debts paid above, including when they were incurred; (3) modify the current restitution order to require Mr. Abramoff to provide immediate notice to the Court of any additional assets or obligations he or his immediate family receives or incurs which are valued at $2,500 or more; (4) require Mr. Abramoff to obtain Court approval prior to he or his immediate family spending sums of $2,500 or more.
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Restitution in CUC Case?

I don't think there was a restitution order in the Rydlyme/CUC case.  Should the defendants including former Lt. Governor Timothy Villagomez, his sister, Joaquin Santos, and brother-in-law James Santos, the former commerce secretary be made to repay the CNMI government for the gallons of needless Rydlyme that they sold to the CUC?  

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

A restitution order would not be made in the Villagomez-Santos case until the time of sentencing. If there is going to be such an order, it will be part of the sentence.

wendy said...

That's what I thought. I think that Judge Munson should make them pay back the CNMI government.

Anonymous said...

I think that that it is SOP about the payback.(hopefully)
Lets hope so.
At the rate these people keep up the "antics" and show no remorse,and the other elected "crooks" writing for "leniency", I hope that there is a very "severe" sentence. Much more comparable to the sentence of the past arrogant Congressman from Rota compared to the Senator Dela Cruz from Tinian who took responsibility for his actions in the "ghost" employee case.(Stanley Torres escaped that one by a thin line)

Anonymous said...

Actually, it was Senator Kizu who narrowly escaped that one

Anonymous said...

Stanley was closer. Kiyu was never charged in federal court, presumably because the evidence was not sufficient. Prosecutions and non-prosecutions are driven by what facts are provable beyond a reasonable doubt.

Stanley was charged in local court, but Rob Torres was able to get evidence suppressed, and Clyde Lemons had to dismiss the case. Public Auditor Mike Sablan ended up firing Mr. Lamkin, one of his investigators, over that -- ruining his career.

Anonymous said...

Is anybody's career ever really ruined in the NMI if you get fired for wrong doing in a political office??
It seems like the same in many Pacific Islands, the worst things that you did in a political office the better Govt job you get in another political office, except in the case if you are an outsider.

Anonymous said...

So true! There is a change in the air though.

Anonymous said...

Always wondered what happened to Lamkin. Would be quite interesting to put a list together of all the "outsiders" that made the PNG list and what the reasons were.

Anonymous said...

Lamkin was not PNG by resolution.

There have been 3 voted by the NMI House of Representatives...Jeff S. in 2000, Ron H. 2007, and the girl that trashed locals for sexual harrassment.