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Attorneys for indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and business partner Adam Kidan insist their clients acted appropriately in their 2000 purchase of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s troubled SunCruz Casinos in a deal that resulted in fraud and conspiracy charges. Miami attorney Neal Sonnett, who represents Abramoff, said the longtime Republican lobbyist and former Greenberg Traurig official was a “victim.” “All I can tell you is that Jack understood that he was involved in a legitimate business deal, and he was not involved in the negotiations, was not even present at the closing,” Sonnett said in an interview Friday. “He only signed documents that were faxed to him with assurances that everything was in proper order.” A federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale accused Abramoff and Kidan last week of using a counterfeit document to convince lenders that they had transferred $23 million to the seller of the day-cruise gambling business. The document, prosecutors allege, resulted in the release of $60 million in loans to be applied toward the purchase of the gambling boats. Kidan was arraigned in Miami on Friday and was released on a $500,000 signature bond. Abramoff, who was traveling in Los Angeles when the indictment was unsealed, surrendered Aug. 11 and appeared before a federal magistrate the next day. Abramoff is expected to return to his home outside Washington, D.C., and plead innocent at an arraignment scheduled to be held in Miami later this month or in early September. Sonnett said his client was released on a $2 million bond co-signed by his wife, brother, and father, plus a $250,000 corporate surety bond secured by 15 percent cash.
Carl Jones and Catherine Wilson are reporters for the Daily Business Review.

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