Michael Scanlon, a former business associate of scandal-plagued lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to bribe a public official and other criminal violations, agreeing to cooperate with a Justice Department investigation believed to be targeting Abramoff and Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Scanlon faces four to five years in prison and will have to repay the more than $19 million in fees from Indian tribal clients. The money was paid to Scanlon and Abramoff’s firm for lobbying services and grassroots campaigns Scanlon now says were fraudulent. In his plea agreement, Scanlon alleges that Abramoff would offer his lobbying services to Indian tribes at no charge and then urge them to use Scanlon’s public relations services, which cost the tribes collectively more than $50 million. Scanlon admitted to then splitting those fees with Abramoff, keeping the payments secret from the tribes. The $19.6 million in restitution represents Scanlon’s share of the profits from his and Abramoff’s work for the tribes. All told, the pair were paid more than $80 million by their tribal clients, according to financial records released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

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