Former Interior Deputy Pleads Guilty To Obstructing Justice In Abramoff Probe

Friday, March 23rd 2007, 11:01 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles pleaded guilty Friday to obstruction of justice in a Senate committee's investigation, becoming the highest-ranking Bush administration official convicted in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal.

The former No. 2 official in the Interior Department admitted in federal court that he lied to the Senate about his relationship with convicted lobbyist Abramoff, who repeatedly sought Griles' intervention at the agency on behalf of Abramoff's Indian tribal clients.

Griles pleaded guilty to a felony charge for testifying falsely before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Nov. 2, 2005, and during an earlier deposition with the panel's investigators on October 20, 2005.

``I am sorry for my wrongdoing. I fully accept the responsibility for my conduct and the consequences it may have,'' Griles said. ``When a Senate committee asks questions, they must be answered fully and completely and it is not my place to decide whether those questions are revelant or too personal. I apologize to my family, my friends, the committee and its staff.''

``Do you acknowledge that these were materially false statements about your relationship with Mr. Abramoff?'' Huvelle asked.

``Yes, your honor,'' Griles replied.

Under the plea agreement, federal prosecutors are seeking no more than a 10-month prison sentence for Griles _ the minimum they could ask for under sentencing guidelines _ but would let him serve half that in home confinement.