Kevin Ring sentenced to 20 months in lobbying scandal

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A former lobbyist who was a rising star under Jack Abramoff's tutelage was sentenced Wednesday to nearly two years in prison for giving public officials meals and event tickets.

Kevin Ring argued up until his emotional sentencing hearing that he was operating in a corrupt Washington environment controlled by people with money and that he did not break the law.

"I found a ridiculous system full of gray areas and I manipulated it," a sobbing Ring told the judge in asking her not to lock him up.

It was the first time he spoke in court after three years of prosecution, including two trials in which he decided not to testify. The courtroom was filled to capacity with his friends and family.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said Ring's conduct was not nearly as egregious as ringleader Abramoff or some of the others involved in a scandal that resulted in stricter lobbying rules in Washington.

But the judge gave Ring a sentence of 20 months, one of the stiffest terms among the 21 defendants in the investigation. Most others involved cooperated with prosecutors and got plea deals that avoided prison.
Huvelle said she had to order prison "to respect the jury's verdict and promote respect for the law."

Ring has 14 days to appeal his conviction or sentence. Huvelle said he could remain free pending the outcome of any appeal.

Ring, a 41-year-old father of two from Kensington, Md., was convicted after two trials of five felony counts including conspiracy, payment of a gratuity and honest services wire fraud. The first jury couldn't agree on his guilt so he had a second trial that led to his conviction in November 2010.

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