A federal judge on Wednesday reduced Jack Abramoff's original 70-month sentence in the SunCruz Casinos fraud case to 45 months, but not before openly worrying about being lenient toward the imprisoned Washington lobbyist.
U.S. District Judge Paul Huck sided with the U.S. government's recommendation for Abramoff's sentence reduction, rejecting Abramoff's lawyers' bid for an even shorter term of 24 months -- nearly the time he has served so far.
''The government has it right, and Mr. Abramoff is asking for too much,'' Huck said.
Both sides debated the final sentence for Abramoff in the SunCruz case, which centered on his and a New York businessman's fraudulent purchase of the South Florida fleet of gambling ships in October 2000. The debate caused some mathematical confusion for the judge because of its links to Abramoff's recently imposed four-year prison sentence in a massive public corruption investigation in Washington.
Huck wanted to ensure that Abramoff, sentenced in that case last week, served a total of six years in prison. ''We have two separate, distinct crimes and they're very serious,'' he said.
Prosecutor Edward Nucci, former acting chief of the Justice Department's public integrity section during part of the Abramoff corruption probe, assured the judge that the once-powerful Republican lobbyist would have to serve his four-year sentence for the Washington conviction in addition to the nearly two years he has already served on his SunCruz conviction.
Abramoff, 49, earned the sentence reduction mainly for his cooperation in the government's investigation of corruption in the nation's capital, but also for assisting prosecutors in the SunCruz case soon after he and his business partner, Adam Kidan, were indicted in August 2005.
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