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Federal prosecutors Thursday announced wire fraud and conspiracy charges against Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his partner Adam Kidan for their roles in the purchase of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based SunCruz Casinos in 2000. An indictment unsealed Thursday charges them with using a fake wire transfer to dupe lenders into financing their $147 million purchase of the fleet of gambling ships from entrepreneur Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis. Abramoff, a former lobbyist in Washington, D.C., for Miami-based Greenberg Traurig, is also a key figure in investigations involving House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Allegations surrounding overbilling of Indian tribe clients by Abramoff, while he was with Greenberg Traurig, also have sparked the biggest lobbying scandal in recent memory. Abramoff and Kidan each face one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud and five counts of wire fraud, said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $60 million, the amount the two men allegedly bilked from the lenders. Each man could face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. The Fort Lauderdale indictment does not address any of the issues raised by investigators and lawmakers in Washington. As the indictment was being announced in Miami the FBI was arresting Abramoff in Los Angeles, where he had been traveling. Agents arrested Kidan in South Florida. Acosta said both were likely to make their initial court appearances today. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz. “Preserving financial security is a top priority of this U.S. attorney’s office,” Acosta told reporters at a late afternoon press conference in Miami. Timothy Delaney, special agent in charge of the FBI in Miami, said his office, which diverted many of its resources to fight terrorist threats after the Sept. 11 attacks, is well-equipped to combat major white-collar crime. “In recent years we’ve refocused our efforts in the criminal arena to make sure we’re taking on the most serious cases,” he said. “Cases like this � are prime examples of the types of cases that should be prosecuted. Regardless of position, status and association, actions like this will not be tolerated.” The two business partners sought financing for the deal from Foothill Capital Corp. and Citadel Equity Fund. The lenders required Abramoff and Kidan to invest $23 million in the deal. They allegedly forged papers, which were provided to the lenders, that indicated they had transferred $23 million to Boulis. The money was never paid to Boulis, according to the indictment, and the lenders financed the deal. Prosecutors also allege that Abramoff and Kidan provided the lenders with personal documents showing false information about their assets and liabilities. Based on that information and the fake wire transfer, Foothill and Citadel lent them $60 million in September 2000 to purchase SunCruz, according to Acosta. A year later, Boulis was gunned down gangland style in 2001 near Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. A federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale returned the indictment against Abramoff and Kidan late Thursday. Abramoff’s criminal defense attorney, Neal Sonnett of Miami, said he had not been informed of any charges and that Abramoff was not involved in any fraud. Abramoff had previously been told that he was a target of the investigation. Abramoff joined Greenberg in 2000 from Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds as one of the best-known lobbyists in Washington. He had a multimillion-dollar book of business, ties to DeLay and conservative credentials that stretched back to the Ronald Reagan years. In the 1980s, he also headed the International Freedom Foundation, a think tank that actively opposed Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa and had worked to help former Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko obtain a U.S. visa. Just a few months before joining Greenberg, Abramoff — along with two other investors — purchased SunCruz, which operated gambling cruises to nowhere. The venture was ill-fated. A lawsuit filed by the Boulis estate revealed that as much as $250,000 had been paid by Kidan to reputed Gambino crime family figures in New York City. Kidan said the payments were to provide security for the boats and denied any wrongdoing. As lawsuits mounted, SunCruz filed for bankruptcy protection in Fort Lauderdale, and Abramoff relinquished his 35 percent share in the company to the Boulis estate. Last year, Abramoff’s star plummeted. The Washington Post disclosed in February 2004 that he and Scanlon had received at least $45 million from Indian tribes that operate casinos. On Feb. 27, according to a Greenberg Traurig statement, Abramoff “disclosed to the firm for the first time personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm.” On March 2, Abramoff resigned.

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