POLITICS
06/25/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Appeals Court Throws Out Key Conviction In Abramoff Case

A federal appeals court overturned the conviction of a former White House official Tuesday in a significant defeat for prosecutors who are overseeing the investigation into the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal.

David Safavian was convicted in 2006 of four charges related to statements he made to officials who were investigating Abramoff, a former lobbyist who pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe lawmakers and bilking his Indian-tribe clients out of millions of dollars.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out two felony-concealment charges against Safavian, saying he had "no legal duty to disclose" details about his relationship with Abramoff to General Services Administration ethics and inspector-general officials. At the time, Safavian was the GSA's chief of staff and helped Abramoff attempt to buy two GSA-managed properties in the Washington area.

"Attorneys commonly advise their clients to answer questions truthfully but not to volunteer information . . . ," the court wrote. "The government essentially asks us to hold that once an individual starts talking, he cannot stop."

Read more on McClatchy Newspapers

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?