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Defense Says ‘Team Abramoff’ Gifts Were Not Illegal

Defense attorneys argued Friday that while Congressional staffer-turned-lobbyist Kevin Ring provided gifts and tickets to House and Senate aides to gain access, the one-time deputy for “Team Abramoff— never violated criminal laws. “You are going to hear about things that absolutely should be crimes, but they were not,— lead defense attorney Andrew Wise told jurors in his opening argument Friday afternoon. “Kevin Ring played by the rules.—Ring — an aide to then-Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and then-Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) before joining lobbyist Jack Abramoff at Preston Gates Ellis and later Greenberg Traurig — is charged with 10 counts of violating federal laws, including bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud for providing gifts to public officials in exchange for official acts. Wise described Ring as a “wonky— lobbyist and asserted that the expensive meals and event tickets provided to Ring’s clients were among the “traditional, accepted and perfectly legal— lobbyist practices between 2002 and 2004. In their opening argument Friday, however, federal prosecutors asserted Ring repeatedly crossed legal boundaries as he sought federal funds for his clients. “Kevin Ring [was] a lobbyist in name but a corruptor in reality,— prosecutor Nathaniel Edmonds told jurors in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “This case is not about legal lobbying,— Edmonds later continued. “This case is about what Team Abramoff did that other lobbyists did not do.—

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