Saturday, September 18, 2010

A new reason for panic in Washington: Ex-lobbyist will soon sing about no-bid defense contracts and political contributions

WASHINGTON – A former lobbyist has decided to plead guilty and cooperate in a Justice Department probe of campaign donations to members of Congress who directed hundreds of millions of dollars to defense contractors without competitive bidding.

A person outside the government who is familiar with the criminal investigation said Thursday that the once-prominent lobbyist, Paul Magliocchetti, will enter a plea on Sept. 24 in federal court in Alexandria, Va.

An electronic entry on the courthouse docket specifies that Magliocchetti will have a "change of plea hearing" in his case on that date.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler and one of Magliocchetti's lawyers, William Lawler, declined to comment.

In the Justice Department probe, a federal grand jury more than a year ago subpoenaed documents from the office of Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., from some of Visclosky's employees and from the congressman's campaign committees.

Magliocchetti pleaded not guilty to an 11-count indictment felony indictment on Aug. 20. He is charged with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal donations to scores of campaigns dating back to 2003 to enrich himself and increase his firm's influence with public officials.

The former lobbyist was to have gone on trial Oct. 5.

The person familiar with the probe, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to be able to speak more freely, said a combination of circumstances led Magliocchetti to decide to enter a guilty plea. One was that a son, Mark Magliocchetti, pleaded guilty in the same investigation and likely would have become a witness against his father at any trial. Also, many of the donations were passed through members of Paul Magliocchetti's extended family, which would have meant that they, too, would have been in a position to testify against him.

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