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Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Crooked congressman says farewell
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, expresses remorse and quotes singer/songwriter Garth Brooks in an e-mail sent to friends Wednesday, a day before he is to enter federal prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

Ney will report Thursday to a minimum security prison in Morgantown, W.Va., to begin serving his 30-month sentence after his guilty plea in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

In the all-lowercase e-mail note to friends, Ney thanks them "for all you have done for me and my family. your kind words, thoughts, and prayers throughout the last six months have helped us quite a lot."

Ellen Ratner, a friend who is the bureau chief at Talk Radio News Service, was one of a handful of friends who confirmed to CNN that she received the e-mail on Wednesday.

"I am a liberal, liberal Democrat," Ratner said. "I am not enamored with Republicans in general. But Bob Ney is a very good human being and he is really glad he is sober. And he feels like sobriety saved his life."

Ney, once a rising star in Congress, resigned his seat on Nov. 3 after acknowledging in October that he used his office for personal gain.

"would i change things if i could, sure," Ney wrote. "am i sorry for things that happened, absolutely, and i will pay the price. but, i am grateful for many good people in our office that helped the district and grateful for a free nation, the men and women that protect it, and a wonderful constituency in the district that i used to serve."

Ney also noted how his personal actions affected his family and expressed gratitude that they have stood by him during this ordeal.

"my family and i have lost everything on an economical basis, house, health care, possessions, but so have other people, people in the district, many, have lost all. and yes, that is painful for anyone that has gone through it, but, i am so fortunate to have my wife and children, we are so rich with family, friends like you, loved ones that are there for us, and full of hope for a good future."

Ney also quoted the lyrics from Brooks' song "The Dance":

and now i'm glad i didn't know
the way it all would end, the way it all would go
our lives are better left to chance,
i could have missed the pain,
but i'd have had to miss, the dance


The former congressman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, deprive his constituents of honest service and violate his former chief of staff's one-year lobbying ban; and a count of making false statements to the House. All of the allegations stemmed from the long-running probe into actions by disgraced lobbyist Abramoff.

Ney was sentenced on January 19.

-- CNN's Ed Henry and Mark Preston

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