A former congressional aide to Rep. Don Young (R-AK) helped the FBI with criminal investigations of two unnamed members of Congress, even secretly recording a conversation at the request of the bureau, according to filing by the Justice Department this week.
Mark Zachares, the former special counsel to Young on the House Transportation Committee who pleaded guilty back in 2007 to one count of fraud related to gifts and travel he received from lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates, is set to be sentenced in federal court next week. The Anchorage Daily News first reported on the motion.
Federal prosecutors filed the motion on Nov. 15 seeking a reduced sentence for Zachares due to his cooperation with FBI investigations. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Zachares would get 18 to 24 months. DOJ says he should get credit for “substantial assistance to the government in the investigation of other matters.” They are seeking a sentence to 12 to 18 months.
“As discussed below, the defendant’s assistance to the investigation of others was substantial,” said the filing submitted by DOJ Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith and Senior Trial Attorney Richard C. Pilger. “Moreover, while those investigations did not produce prosecutions, the government assessed the defendant’s cooperation in light of the other available evidence to be complete, forthcoming, and truthful in every instance.”
The investigation into “Congressman A” was “halted as a result of Congressman A asserting the Speech or Debate privilege, and through no fault or failure of the defendant.” According to the filing, the investigation into “Congressman B” was “halted as a result of legal and evidentiary issues, and through no fault or failure of the defendant.”
“At the direction of the FBI, the defendant also made a covertly recorded (though ultimately unproductive) telephone call to another witness to Congressman A’s travel,” said the filing. “The defendant provided extensive, detailed, and valuable eyewitness information about the nature of Congressman A’s travel, and the payment for expenses by Abramoff during that travel.”
Young said in August that the Justice Department’s investigation of him had been dropped.