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Lobbyist Ring facing another trial on two more charges

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The U.S. Department of Justice isn’t through with the Kevin Ring prosecution yet. Ring, a former lobbyist who worked for Jack Abramoff, was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in prison on corruption charges. Prosecutors issued a statement following the Washington, D.C. hearing that says Ring remains charged with two additional counts of obstructing justice. The Justice Department alleges that the charges focus on efforts by Ring to thwart criminal and congressional investigations by preventing the reporting of his criminal conduct to federal authorities. Ring served as legislative aide to ex-Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, in the mid-1990s before going on to work as a lobbyist in the Abramoff firm. Doolittle was named as an “unindicted co-co-conspirator” by prosecutors in the Ring trial but has denied any wrongdoing and has never been charged with a crime. The U.S. District Court in Washington severed the two remaining counts and Ring is scheduled to stand trial at a later date, the prosecution statement reads. Ring’s attorneys are pursuing possible appeals of both his initial conviction and the 20-month sentence imposed Wednesday. Ring’s case is part of a larger corruption conspiracy investigation of Abramoff and his associates that has resulted in guilty pleas or convictions at trial of 20 people, including lobbyists and public officials. The Ring case hit home in Placer County, not only because it involved the ex-aide and friend of a long-time congressman for the area, but Ring also worked as a lobbyist for the city of Lincoln. Paul Berger, representative-at-large for the Auburn Area Democratic Club, said many people believed Doolittle was “up to his eyebrows in the whole scheme.” “It can be traced directly to convicted felon Jack Abramoff, who at least owned up to what he did and accepted his punishment,” Berger said. “Placer County is fortunate that this whole ‘pay to play’ chapter in its political history is behind us.” Doolittle did not seek re-election in 2008 and now works as a lobbyist in Washington. He attended Wednesday’s sentencing and said afterward that he believes Ring has a good chance of winning an appeal on either the jury verdict or sentencing. Doolittle had written a letter to sentencing Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle stating prosecutors attempted to get his ex-aide to lie about his involvement in an attempt to close in on the congressman with false charges. “The prosecutors hate me,” Doolittle said Wednesday. Doolittle had asked that Ring receive probation. “(The 20-month sentence) wasn’t a courageous decision,” Doolittle said. “But at least they gave Kevin the most important thing. He needed to be free, pending a decision on an appeal.”