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GOP lawmaker tied to convicted lobbyist pleads guilty

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges in the congressional investigation into corruption and bribery involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to the Justice Department.

Ney pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements in a deal in which he will cooperate with the Justic Department's influence peddling investigation.

The plea deal was filed Friday morning in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Ney is required to "to make a full, accurate and complete disclosure" to prosecutors, but Ney's lawyer said he expects Ney will not be asked questions outside the circumstances of the charges. (Watch how Ney got a round of golf at St. Andrews and free meals -- 1:51)

The maximum sentence for the two counts is 10 years, but the Justice Department and Ney's lawyers agreed on a sentencing recommendation of 27 months in prison, provided Ney continues to provide truthful information. The final sentence will be determined by a federal judge.

Ney could also be fined up to $500,000, according to the agreement.

Rep. Ney asks that positive actions be remembered as well

In a written statement, Ney apologized to his family, his Ohio constitutents and his House colleagues, saying he accepted the deal "to start repairing the damage I have caused and to start healing my family."

"I know that this plea agreement will probably forever change the way people view my public service," Ney wrote. "I regret this very much because I hope and believe that I have helped people through my work, and I hope that someday the good I have tried to do will be measured alongside the mistakes I have made."

Ney entered an alcohol rehabilitation facility earlier this week and did not appear in court Friday, according to one of the sources.

Ney, who had steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, has been under investigation for many months as part of the government probe into corruption, fraud and bribery by Abramoff.

"Congressman Ney and his co-conspirators engaged in a long-term pattern to defraud the public of the unbiased and honest services of an elected official," Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher said.

First member of Congress to plead guilty in the case

Ney is the first member of Congress to plead guilty in the extensive investigation. He has previously said he took no official actions as a result of any gifts from lobbyists.

Abramoff and his business partner, public relations executive Michael Scanlon, pleaded guilty within the last year to bribery charges and admitted they supplied gifts to a member of Congress identified publicly only as "Representative 1."

In court filings, they said the gifts were in exchange for help from the lawmaker on behalf of their clients, including support for specific bills; meetings with their clients; advancing in the House of Representatives an application of one of their clients for a license to install a wireless telephone infrastructure; and placing statements in the Congressional Record regarding a Florida casino deal.

Government sources previously told CNN that lawmaker was Ney.

In exchange for his actions, Ney and his staff allegedly received, according to previous court filings in the case, a golf trip to Scotland, meals at restaurants, tickets to sporting events and campaign contributions.

Several aides to Ney had received subpoenas as part of the probe in the last several months, which seemed to indicate a focus on him.

Ney, who gave up his chairmanship of the House Administration Committee after the Abramoff plea deal, decided in August to abandon his campaign for re-election, which had been dogged by questions about his dealings with Abramoff.

In May, Ney's former chief of staff, Neil Volz, also entered into a deal in which he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

In court papers, prosecutors alleged Ney "agreed to take favorable official action and render other assistance on behalf of clients" of Abramoff, who hired Volz as a lobbyist after he left Ney's staff.

CNN's Kevin Bohn and John Roberts contributed to this report.

Ohio Rep. Bob Ney has repeatedly said he has done nothing wrong.



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