Two Former Reps Must Pay Back Bribe Money
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ A judge ruled Friday that the federal government is entitled to $47,500 in kickback money paid to former U.S Reps. John Murphy, D-N.Y., and Frank Thompson, D-N.J., during the Abscam bribery-conspiracy investigation.
U.S. District Judge Frank Altimari ruled that Murphy and Thompson are jointly liable for the total amount.
He found that there was enough evidence from the Abscam trials to show that Murphy and Thompson conspired to accept the payoff money from undercover agents.
In a separate decision, Altimari denied that Thompson was liable for another $47,500, saying the evidence in Thompson’s trial did not support that claim. The judge said the government would have to prove its right to that money in another trial.
Eleven defendants were convicted in Abscam, including seven congressmen. Prosecutors said seven of the defendants never returned the nearly $200,000 they were accused of accepting in bribes.
Murphy was released from prison on Wednesday after serving 20 months of a three-year sentence. Thompson, who was also sentenced to three years, was to be paroled on Sept. 7.
Eleanor Piel, Thompson’s attorney, said she would appeal the first ruling to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The office of John Murphy Jr., attorney for Murphy, said the lawyer was unavailable for comment.
Altimari’s ruling from the bench followed a 20-minute hearing in which the defendants’ attorneys argued that the government was not entitled to the money.
Miss Piel contended that since it was determined that Thompson had accepted at the most $10,000, he should only be liable for $10,000.She also said that Thompson, in addition to a prison term, was fined $20,000 at sentencing and that should be taken into consideration.
Miss Piel said she did not know if the government would seek to obtain the $47,500 from Thompson or Murphy. She said the government had the option to seek the money from both defendants or one.