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Ex-Bush administration official on trial for alleged obstruction of Abramoff probe

[JURIST] The trial of David Safavian [Wikipedia profile], former chief of staff at the General Services Administration (GSA) [official website] and former White House chief procurement officer, begins Wednesday. Safavian is charged with making false statements to Senate and GSA officials in an investigation [JURIST report] into to Safavian's relationship with former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive] during a 2002 golf trip to Scotland where Abramoff allegedly was trying to purchase property owned by the GSA. Prosecutors are expected to rely on mass amounts of e-mail correspondence between Safavian and Abramoff to prove that the pair were in fact doing business together. Safavian's lawyers maintain that the golf trip, valued at $100,000, was not a gift because Safavian paid $3,100 towards his own hotel and golf fees, but prosecutors allege that the chartered plane they took to Scotland constitutes a gift.

In Safavian's indictment [JURIST report], prosecutors allege that he concealed the fact that he was helping Abramoff deal with the GSA and that Abramoff had done business with the GSA prior to the trip. In an unrelated case, Abramoff pleaded guilty [JURIST report; plea agreement, PDF] to two conspiracy and fraud charges stemming from falsification of documents to procure a loan for the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casino and was sentenced to nearly six years [JURIST report] in prison. Abramoff is now cooperating with prosecutors in corruption investigations of other government officials. Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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