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REP. NEY PLEADS GUILTY IN ABRAMOFF PROBE WASHINGTON � Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty Friday to criminal fraud charges as part of the government’s ongoing public corruption probe stemming from the business deals of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In the two-count plea, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Ney, 52, admitted to making false statements and to being part of a conspiracy to violate congressional gift bans by accepting handouts and free trips from Abramoff and his clients in exchange for pushing their legislative agenda beginning in 2000 until April 2004. Ney is the first member of Congress to face charges in a lobbying scandal that has already ensnared six other lobbyists and government officials. Lawyers familiar with the investigation say the government is likely to bring charges against other government officials, former Hill staffers, and lobbyists in the coming months. Even though the Ohio congressman soundly won his primary election in May, the state Republican Party moved quickly to remove him from the November ballot and named Joy Padgett, a former state representative, on Thursday as his replacement. The New York Times reported Friday that Ney had entered into treatment for alcoholism. Ney will appear in court Oct. 13 before Judge Ellen Huvelle. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $500,000 fine, although the Justice Department is recommending he receive closer to 27 months in prison.

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