Scanlon Sentencing Deferred Until Cooperation Over

Former DeLay aide and Abramoff associate Michael Scanlon pleaded guilty today to a five year count of conspiracy that included bribery of public officials and devising a scheme to defraud his firm's lobbying clients. The plea agreement called for $19 million in restitution. The agreement isn't up on the court's website yet, but with that amount of restitution, his sentencing guidelines would be at the maximum range of 5 years. [Update: Findlaw has it here (pdf).

The court agreed to defer his sentencing until his cooperation is over, which means if he tells the truth from the Government's point of view, the Government will file a motion before sentencing seeking a reduction below his guideline range. That is not likely to occur for some time, as the Court is going to hold status conferences every three months, and set the first one for March 1, 2006.

Reading between the lines, Scanlon will be going to prison, not getting off with probation or home detention. It's just a question of for how long and when. The more people he gives up, the better he will do. If any of them plead guilty, or get convicted at trial, he'll do even better.

Rep. Ney of Ohio appears to be number one in the crosshairs. DeLay probably faces some jeopardy as well. How ironic that Bush campaigned on a promise of high ethics in his administration, and it looks instead like his Administration will go down in the history books as the most corrupt administration since Nixon.

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    You can find the plea agreement here . It makes for very interesting reading. The government agrees to make a 5K recommendation (or a post-sentencing motion under Rule 35) based on Scanlon's cooperation. Scanlon waives his appeal of the sentence, but the government does not. And, as you noted, there's no agreed sentence, only agreed facts on which the sentence will be based. Plus, Scanlon can't withdraw his plea and everything he told the government is fair game in any subsequent prosecution if Scanlon breaches the deal (the Antitrust Division could have used such a provision in Stolt-Nielsen). Looks the government held all the cards.