WASHINGTON -- Former Rep. Bob Ney became yesterday the second former member of the House of Representatives to draw a prison term for his role in the lobbying scandals that helped doom the Republicans' majority in Congress in November's midterm election.
Ney, an Ohio Republican, was sentenced to 30 months, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and was fined $6,000.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ordered Ney to perform 200 hours of community service. She also recommended that Ney enter a prison alcohol rehabilitation program for an admitted drinking problem.
"You violated a host of laws that you, as a congressman, are sworn to enforce and uphold," Huvelle told Ney.
In brief remarks to the judge, Ney apologized to his family and constituents. "I will continue to take full responsibility, accept the consequence and battle the demons of addiction that are within me," he said.
Ney pleaded guilty in October to two counts of conspiracy to commit multiple offenses involving the use of his elected office for corrupt purposes.
Co-conspirators in Ney's case included lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Ney's former chief of staff and two aides to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, all of whom have pleaded guilty in the investigation.
Ney admitted soliciting and accepting bribes from Abramoff and his lobbying staff. In return, Ney opposed specific legislation and supported an application for a contract to install the basis for a wireless telephone network in the House.
Among the items that he accepted were a golfing trip to Scotland and thousands of dollars in gambling chips.
"Today's sentence makes it clear that our government is not for sale," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Alice S. Fisher, who heads the Justice Department's criminal division.
Ney is the second member of the 2005-2006 Congress to land in jail.
In a separate case, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a California Republican, is serving an eight-year sentence for bribery and tax evasion.
Ney, who served six two-year House terms, will be eligible to draw a congressional pension of about $29,000 a year if he waits until he is 62, the National Taxpayers Union estimated.
An ethics bill passed by the Senate on Thursday and sent to the House would deny pensions for members of Congress convicted of felonies. The bill would not affect Ney.
Joel Havemann writes for the Los Angeles Times.