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Jack Abramoff is due to report to prison Nov. 15, and last week, Justice Department prosecutors in Miami, in consultation with Abramoff’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell of Chadbourne & Parke, made a recommendation as to where his new home should be. Their first pick: the Federal Correctional Institute, Cumberland. (The federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va., is the feds’ second choice.) Located in western Maryland, the medium-security Cumberland prison is within driving distance of Washington, allowing federal prosecutors easy access to Abramoff as he continues to squeal about his relationships with a range of congressmen and executive branch officials. Abramoff was sentenced to nearly six years after pleading guilty to fraud charges in Florida this spring, but his sentence for charges in the District is still contingent on his cooperation with the Justice Department. But what to do with the hours in between his meetings with the feds? Abramoff will get the opportunity to burnish his skills as a handyman: Work options include plumbing, electrical, and landscaping details. Additionally, the prison’s vocational program specializes in training inmates in carpentry and blueprint reading, according to FCI Cumberland spokesman Jeff Baney. But Abramoff, who owned D.C. steak and sushi house Signatures during his go-go days as the �berlobbyist, will likely draw kitchen duty, an assignment often given to new prisoners, for much of the prison’s seven-hour workdays. Abramoff “could be doing pots and pans or working the serving line” for starters, says Baney. And he won’t have much privacy. When not working or spending recreation time in the prison yard, inmates spend the duration of their hours in two- and three-person cells. There, Abramoff is likely to get an up-close look at the consequences of the tough federal drug-offense sentencing laws supported by so many of his former friends on Capitol Hill. Far from being a white-collar crook’s haven, Baney says, Cumberland’s 1,100 prisoners are “predominately drug offenders.”
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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