Ring friends, family make plea for mercy, no prison in D.C. corruption case

Prosecution says Ring able to hide his deceit
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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With sentencing days away on federal corruption charges and the possibility of more than four years in prison, ex-lobbyist Kevin Ring’s friends and family are coming to his defense. In letters to sentencing Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, they describe an honest, Christian, morally upright and personable young man who may have stumbled as he worked under Jack Abramoff in one of Washington’s top lobbying firms. But they say he shouldn’t be allowed to fall. Prosecutors, conversely, are asking the judge to send a strong message to government officials and employees “and all who seek to corruptly influence those public officials – that corruption and violations of the public trust will not be tolerated.” A sentencing memorandum from the prosecution team advises Huvelle that Ring’s support “crystallizes the inherent challenges for the court in sentencing white-collar criminals – excellent defense lawyers who can paint a picture of a defendant that identifies only the positive traits.” Ring was found guilty this year by a U.S. District Court jury of bribing public officials. He faces a three-to-five-year sentence and Justice Department prosecutors are asking for a 50-month term. Ring said in his own letter to Huvelle that he refused to plead guilty because it would have meant lying about his lobbying relationship with ex-Rep. John Doolittle, who represented most of Placer County in Congress for 18 years. He added that he could have sent Doolittle to prison. Prosecutors deny any attempt to have Ring lie, pointing to the guilty verdicts at trial. Ring’s estranged wife, Kerrie O’Brien Ring said that his two daughters need their father at home and working. “Kevin has suffered enough,” O’Brien Ring said. “Over the past several years, he has lost his parents, his career, his reputation, his law license and countless friends – who cut off contact when his troubles began.” O’Brien Ring, who said she has lost potential jobs when prospective employers found out who her husband was, asked Huvelle to sentence Kevin Ring to home confinement. “Unless Kevin is able to continue working, we will never escape the massive debt he accumulated in defending himself,” O’Brien Ring said. Ring worked as legislative director for Doolittle in the mid-1990s and joined Abramoff’s Greenberg-Traurig lobbying firm in 2000. He was fired in 2005 and charged on corruption and bribery allegations three years later. Doolittle has asked the judge to sentence Ring to no jail time and stated neither he nor his former aide committed crimes. The Justice Department memorandum says that Huvelle shouldn’t lose sight of the crimes Ring was convicted of in a jury trial. “The government does not dispute Ring’s many positive character traits,” prosecutors state. “But the letter writers have seen only one side of Ring – Ring kept the truth of his corrupt and deceitful conduct even from those who knew him best.” Probation request for Ring in corruption sentencing The defense team for Kevin Ring will be asking U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle for no jail time in the case Oct. 26. Ring defense attorney Richard Hibey said he’ll be asking Huvelle to show mercy and give his client probation. Ring did not believe any of his actions were intended to corrupt, he said. Vincent Ring Jr., the ex-lobbyist’s brother, asked the judge in a letter obtained by the Journal from court files to show “maximum leniency.” He attacked the prosecution. “I still have a great deal of anger about the events that led to this moment,” Vincent Ring said. “The unrelenting pursuit of him and tactics that were used were unconscionable.” Ring’s older brother described a bucolic life growing up in Clinton, Conn. in a middle-class family that valued “honesty, personal responsibility, accountability and hard work.” Ring graduated from Syracuse University in 3½ years. He then worked on the Pat Buchanan presidential campaign before getting an intern’s job in Doolittle’s office. He rose to the legislative director post before leaving to work for Sen. John Ashcroft, his brother recalled. Edward Ayoob, who also worked in the Greenberg-Traurig office, said that Ring has emerged as “an even better person” from the scandal. “Even with the felony convictions hanging over his head, I believe Kevin Ring was one of the best and, yes, most ethical lobbyists I have known during my 15 years working in Washington. Even more fundamental, he is one of the most decent people I know,” Ayoob said. Ring, whose portfolio of Greenberg-Traurig clients included the city of Lincoln, now works part-time for Washington, D.C.-based Families Against Mandatory Minimums. The organization’s president, Julie Stewart, stated that it “pains her the jury that convicted him didn’t know the real Ring. “Instead, it appears they buckled under the weight of countless binders of e-mails, much as juries in drug cases are ready to convict as soon as they see the kilo of cocaine on the prosecution table ,” Stewart said. “The tragic result is that they never saw Kevin as anything other than one-dimensional.” But prosecutors contend that letters like Stewart’s are objectionable because the writers cannot be called for cross-examination under oath – something that would have occurred at trial. “(They) appear to be denying that corrupt conduct occurred, describing Ring’s ‘honesty’ and other positive virtues,” the prosecution’s memorandum to Huvelle states. “While Ring had every right not to call any witnesses to testify on his behalf during the trial, Ring’s attempt to put uncorroborated statements before this court – statements that are inconsistent with the evidence and contrary to the jury’s finding (are) … entirely disingenuous.”