Ex-U.S. Rep. Ney sentenced to prison

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former Rep. Bob Ney was sentenced Friday to 2 ½ years in federal prison for trading political favors for gifts and campaign donations from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Ney, the first congressman ensnared in the lobbying scandal, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy and making false statements. He admitted being corrupted by golf trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff. Ney represented   Ohio's 18th Congressional district.

''You violated a host of laws that you as a congressman are sworn to enforce and uphold,'' said U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, who recommended that Ney serve his time at a federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va.

Ney will also serve two years probation and must pay a $6,000 fine. Huvelle recommended he enter a prison alcohol rehabilitation program for treatment of a drinking problem he has acknowledged in recent months. Completing the program could knock about a year off his sentence.

Huvelle did not set a date for Ney to report to prison.

The sentence was harsher than recommended by prosecutors or Ney's lawyers, Huvelle said, because Ney had violated the trust placed on him as a public official. ''Both your constituents and the public trusted you to represent them honestly,'' she said.

Ney apologized to his family and constituents during a brief speech to the judge.

''I will continue to take full responsibility, accept the consequences and battle the demons of addiction that are within me,'' he said.

Earlier, Ney's defense team filed letters from his doctor and a former staff member who described his drinking problems and how they accelerated when he came under scrutiny in the Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Dr. Renato F. Dela Cruz, the congressman's physician, wrote that Ney's behavior had been influenced by an increase in alcohol consumption that began in 2001. Cruz said he urged the lawmaker to cut back, but the recommendation was ignored.

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