Former Hill Staffer to Plead Guilty in Abramoff Affair

Posted April 23, 2007 at 3:24pm

A former House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staffer is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to accepting cash and other gifts from lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for using his position to help Abramoff and his clients.

According to documents filed by the Justice Department on Monday, Mark Zachares, a Transportation and Infrastructure staffer from June 2002 to November 2004, helped steer clients to Abramoff, contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency on behalf of Abramoff’s clients, and provided information to Abramoff about the committee’s dealings with the Department of Homeland Security to assist his lobbying practice.

In exchange, DOJ alleges, Abramoff paid Zachares $10,000 in cash, provided him with thousands of dollars worth of tickets to sporting events and tried to get the White House to appoint him to a senior position in the Department of Interior.

The Justice Department filing suggests that Abramoff and Zachares were involved in a long-term plan to use Zachares’ position to funnel business to Abramoff clients, until Zachares could join Abramoff’s lobbying practice and represent the same clients.

Zachares’ attorney declined to comment on the matter.

— Paul Singer