Ex-lobbyist gets 27-month prison sentence

A once-prominent Washington lobbyist was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison for illegally funneling more than $380,000 in campaign contributions to House members controlling the Pentagon's ...

A once-prominent Washington lobbyist was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison for illegally funneling more than $380,000 in campaign contributions to House members controlling the Pentagon's budget.

A federal judge imposed the sentence on Paul Magliocchetti, who for two decades ran a top lobbying shop that worked with executives of Magliocchetti's defense contractor clients. The defense contractors hired the lobbyist for his influence with the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and other key congressional players who earmarked funds for favored companies.

The business executives, Magliocchetti and his lobbying team provided millions of dollars in campaign donations over the years to House and Senate appropriators, who directed billions of dollars to the defense firms.

Magliocchetti admitted that he instructed members of his family, friends and lobbyists who worked for him to write checks out of their personal checking accounts to specific candidates for federal office and that Magliocchetti advanced funds to or reimbursed these individuals using personal and corporate funds.

"You knew what you were doing: enhancing the power and prestige of your lobbying organization," U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Magliocchetti.

Before Ellis imposed his sentence, the former lobbyist said, "I know that this is not a victimless crime" and he declared that he accepted responsibility for misconduct impacting his family, friends and employees at his lobbying firm. The firm went out of business after FBI agents raided Magliocchetti's office in November 2008.

"Paul Magliocchetti spent half of a decade gaming the system," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, said in a statement. "As today's sentence makes clear, he must now pay a price." U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said Magliocchetti "carried out one of the largest federal campaign finance frauds in history,"

Ellis rejected a request by Magliocchetti's lawyers for the ex-lobbyist to be sentenced to home confinement, a request based on grounds that a combination of mental problems and physical ailments would trigger a deterioration in his mental condition.

Magliocchetti's lawyers won permission from the judge to have a psychologist testify Friday afternoon at the opening of the court proceeding. The psychologist said Magliocchetti, who is 64, suffers from a medical condition known as Mild Cognitive Impairment, an intermediate stage between normal age-related changes and the onset of dementia.

The judge said the federal prison system is fully capable of fulfilling Magliocchetti's medical needs and discounted the psychologist's assertion that the cognitive impairment condition would deteriorate in prison.

After the FBI raid two years ago, Magliocchetti experienced increased anxiety, severe depression, alcohol use and eventually began talking of suicide, which prompted a stay at a psychiatric hospital.

The court proceeding touched several times on the fact that Magliocchetti's downfall and his stress stemmed partly from the cooperation his son Mark provided to federal prosecutors, a decision that the elder Magliocchetti regarded as a betrayal, according to court documents. That led to some unsolicited advice from the judge, who told Paul Magliocchetti at the close of the court proceeding: "Make up with your son."

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