Former Young aide charged with conspiracy

Staffer implicated in Abramoff scandal

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2007

WASHINGTON - An aide to Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, accepted $30,000 worth of tickets from an influence peddler and went on a golf junket to Scotland in exchange for assisting the lobbyist, according to court papers filed Monday in the Abramoff scandal.

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Mark Zachares will plead guilty today to conspiracy in the Abramoff investigation, said Zachares' lawyer, Edward MacMahon. Zachares left Young's staff in 2005.

Abramoff and his lobbying team supplied Zachares with tickets on more than 40 occasions from August 2002 to February 2004, says a 10-page Justice Department document filed in the case.

In early 2002, Zachares accepted $10,000 in wire transfers from Abramoff through a nonprofit foundation the lobbyist controlled, the papers state.

Young's office did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.

From June 2002 through November 2004, Zachares worked for the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, providing Abramoff contact information for prospective businesses that would be affected by the creation of the Homeland Security Department, court papers stated.

The two men worked out a "two-year plan" in which Abramoff would build a homeland security lobbying practice that Zachares ultimately would join. The papers also state that:

• Zachares sent an e-mail saying he was willing to help Abramoff regarding the lobbyist's Sun Cruz venture, which involved the purchase of a fleet of Florida gambling boats. Zachares offered to help with administrative issues involving the U.S. Maritime Administration, which regulated financial assistance Abramoff was seeking for Sun Cruz.

• Zachares used his influence over disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to advance Abramoff's prospective business with the territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.

Zachares went on an August 2003 golfing trip to Scotland with Abramoff and six others including Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla.

Feeney's office said the Justice Department has contacted the congressman to request more information and that Feeney is cooperating. Early this year, Feeney agreed to reimburse the government $5,643 for the trip.

The cost of the trip was more than $160,000 for private jet service, luxury hotel accommodations, twice-daily golf games, meals, drinks and local transportation, states the document that federal prosecutors filed in court.

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