The Justice Department argued in a Tuesday filing that Ring should serve three years probation after his release and perform community service in lieu of a fine. Ring — who was convicted of conspiracy, paying of an illegal gratuity and three counts of honest services fraud — had asked for five years probation for his role in the Abramoff scandal.
A 50-month prison sentence would fall in the middle of the 46 to 57 month sentence range that a judge determined were outlined in the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s guidelines. DOJ had wanted Ring to spend 17-22 years in jail.
Still, a 50-month sentence would be the harshest jail term given to anyone convicted in the entire Ambramoff probe, above even the sentence of Abramoff himself, who got 48 months in prison.
One reason attorneys in DOJ’s Public Integrity Unit argue in their 39-page filing that such a sentence is justified: “The decline of public confidence in our democratic institutions in general and in our public officials in particular is a loss that cannot be lightly cast aside.”
“The criminal acts alleged in the Indictment and demonstrated at trial spanned many years and targeted the highest levels of the executive and legislative branches of government,” they write. “Indeed, the evidence presented at trial established that Ring engaged in, and helped manage, an orchestrated scheme to use exclusive, high-priced tickets, trips, even a ‘low-show’ job for a congressional spouse, and other things of value to corruptly influence public officials.”
Even though Ring “was not a public servant when he committed his crimes, his illegal activity is no less threatening to the public’s trust or the integrity of the government,” they argue. The filing continues:
For years, Ring corruptly sought to trade money, gifts, tickets, and trips for the official acts of high-ranking government officials. As demonstrated above, Ring sought to conceal the nature of his activities by instructing his co- conspirators not to disclose the names of public officials they were targeting with a free trip to the Super Bowl. But for this criminal investigation and holding Ring and his co-conspirators accountable, Ring might well have continued with his corrupt scheme to pillage federal funds and taxpayer dollars with impunity. The proposed punishments in this case—which include terms of incarceration as prescribed by the applicable Guidelines range—fit his serious crimes.
Prosecutors also argue that former Rep. John Doolittle wasn’t doing Ring any favors when he penned an opinion piece for the Daily Caller titled “The growing criminalization of American politics” that mentioned Ring’s case.
Media coverage, prosecutors argue, “cannot substitute for general deterrence, and Ring offers no authority to the contrary.”
“This is particularly true when some of the media coverage is generated by the public officials who received Ring’s bribes and illegal gratuities,” they write. “Indeed, Ring’s argument could have the perverse effect of encouraging co- conspirators to generate media coverage of their case so that, if convicted, they can receive a below-the-Guidelines sentence.”
DOJ also wants to know ahead of time who will testify for Ring at the hearing “so that the credibility of the witnesses may be properly impeached.” They urged skepticism of the letters written in support of Ring, noting that many of the writers “challenge the jury’s verdict and argue for leniency for Ring, but some of them are speaking either out of their own self interest or simply lack credibility in their allegations.”
Prosecutors go on to argue that Ring is different from nearly all of his co-conspirators because he “has not accepted responsibility and has shown little remorse for his criminal conduct because he still does not believe that the acts he took were criminal.” Unlike Ring, they say “the co-conspirators who have pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility stand in a fundamentally different place.”
They write in conclusion:
Ring was the second-in-command of a corruption scheme that shook the nation’s confidence in its public officials and compromised the integrity of our government. Team Abramoff, and its Chief Operating Officer Kevin Ring, sought to corrupt numerous public officials with expensive meals, exotic trips, tickets to exclusive concerts and sporting events, and a low-show job for a Congressman’s wife. While all corruption offenses undermine citizens’ faith in democracy, Ring (along with his co-conspirators) contributed greatly to the recent decline in the trust of government and reinforced the belief that the political system is rigged in favor of those that would use their wealth to lavish gifts on public officials and corruptly influence the manner in which our nation’s limited tax dollars are spent. Ring entered a “corrupt bargain for early success and money,” and this Court should appropriately punish him for his crimes. Accordingly, the Court should sentence Ring to a Guidelines sentence of 50 months incarceration, followed by a period of three years of supervised release.
The full filing is embedded below.