A federal jury in the District of Columbia today convicted a former staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives on corruption charges relating to his acceptance of an all-expenses paid trip to Game One of the 2003 World Series.
Fraser C. Verrusio, 41, was convicted after a 10-day trial on one count of conspiring to accept an illegal gratuity, one count of accepting an illegal gratuity and one count of making a false statement in failing to report his receipt of gifts from a lobbyist and the lobbyist’s client on his 2003 financial disclosure statement.
Verrusio worked as the policy director for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The committee had responsibility for, among other things, the Federal Highway Bill in the House of Representatives.
According to evidence and testimony presented at trial, Verrusio and Trevor Blackann, a legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Game One of the 2003 World Series from a lobbyist working for an equipment rental company interested in inserting three amendments into the Federal Highway Bill. The trip was funded by the equipment rental company and the lobbyist’s firm. Evidence also established that one of the lobbyists who helped arrange for the trip worked with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and that the equipment rental company was a client at Abramoff’s firm.
At sentencing, scheduled for May 6, 2011, Verrusio faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge. He faces a maximum of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the illegal gratuity charge, and a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the false statement charge.
Blackann previously pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme. To date, 20 individuals, including lobbyists and public officials, have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial in connection with the activities of Abramoff and his associates. Abramoff pleaded guilty in January 2006 to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services fraud and tax evasion. He was sentenced in September 2008 to 48 months in prison.
Those who have pleaded guilty most certainly agreed to cooperate with the government for a reduced sentence. As part of the substantial assistance, testifying against others is typically a requirement, which most likely occurred in Verrusio’s trial.
For a complete reading of the DOJ press release, please click here.
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