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Court documents filed Wednesday in the corruption prosecution of former Rep. Bob Ney offer new details about the Ohio Republican’s illicit activities — and suggest that Ney was aided in those dealings by a key staffer. The documents, filed Jan. 3 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, are part of an effort by the government to persuade Judge Ellen Huvelle to give Ney a longer sentence. Included in the documents are e-mails that vividly illustrate the quid pro quo relationship between Ney and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Ney, 52, pleaded guilty in September 2006 to two felony counts of conspiracy and making false statements in connection with the Abramoff lobbying scandal. In his plea, the six-term congressman admitted to inserting language in bills or making statements on the House floor in exchange for campaign contributions, meals, travel, and sports tickets. He also admitted taking thousands of dollars in gambling chips from a foreign businessman. Prosecutors hope that if they show that Ney conspired with at least five people, Huvelle will add three months to Ney’s sentence, which is expected to be between 24 and 27 months. Ney’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 19. The documents paint a particularly stark picture of Ney’s chief of staff from February 2002 to July 2006, whom the documents identify as “Staffer C.” That individual is Will Heaton, who has not been charged. Heaton’s lawyer, John Nassikus, could not be reached for comment. Prosecutors wrote that Heaton “enjoyed and coordinated” many of the gifts Ney received. He traveled with the congressman to Scotland, Lake George, N.Y, and New Orleans. Heaton specifically scheduled the New Orleans gambling trip to “provide a vacation” for Ney. Heaton also took thousands of dollars’ worth of gambling chips during the August 2003 gambling trip to London sponsored by a foreign businessman, prosecutors wrote. But his largest role was helping Abramoff’s Russian clients. On July 28, 2003, just before Heaton and Ney left to Russia as part of a congressional delegation, Heaton fired off a note to Abramoff associate Michael Williams. “Hey man. Long time since we talked but I am heading to russian [sic] this week,” Heaton wrote on July 28. “Neil [Volz] had mentioned that you have stoli as a client. Anything we can do?” Sure enough, Abramoff’s crew had a few ideas. The day after the e-mail, Abramoff lobbyist Neil Volz arranged for Ney and Heaton to meet with two of Abramoff’s clients in Russia, the documents say. Although one client got sick, Heaton and Ney met with another, named Marina, the documents show. “They called me from their coffee get together,” Abramoff wrote in an e-mail to colleagues on Aug. 2, 2003. “Bob said something in Russian! I told him he is a traitor!! :)” In another example from the summer of 2003, according to the documents, a family member of an Abramoff client in Russia was having trouble securing a visa for a medical conference in the United States. Abramoff went to Ney for help. “They said they would make the calls and get this done,” Volz e-mailed Abramoff after talking with a staffer for the congressman. Abramoff’s team also enlisted Heaton to call the consulate in Moscow to aid in their client’s visa issues. “He said he would follow up with the consulate while there to make sure it’s completed,” Volz wrote on July 31 after speaking with him. But the problem required help on another front. Because the client’s relative needed to get her passport back for a week so she could travel to France, Abramoff suggested some direct intervention from Ney. “Maybe, with Bob calling and telling the Ambassador that he looks forward to seeing him, etc., this might work,” Abramoff wrote to colleagues on July 30. In an e-mail Aug. 7, Volz said that when Ney “asked for the passport, the consulate was hesitant.” They wanted him to meet with Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. “Bob did not quid pro quo or anything,” Volz continued in an e-mail to Abramoff “but decided to become a little more flexible on meeting with Khodorkovsky over the course of their long conversation — and they became more flexible on the passport. Long and short of it, he ended up meeting with this guy, and they ended up giving him the passport.” Volz had one other piece to add. “Bob asked that this specifically stay just with us,” he wrote.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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