In one of the biggest “pay to play” investigations in recent years, a protégé of the late Representative John P. Murtha was indicted Thursday on charges that as a lobbyist he made hundreds of thousands of dollars in laundered campaign contributions to lawmakers, using straw donors and other illicit means to disguise the source of the money.
The charges against the lobbyist, Paul Magliocchetti, are the biggest development to date in a federal investigation into whether a network of lobbyists, military contractors and lawmakers effectively traded campaign contributions to politicians in exchange for lucrative government “earmarks” to contractors.
Mr. Magliocchetti, the founder of a now-defunct lobbying shop called the PMA Group in Arlington, Va., once known for throwing lavish Washington parties, has been at the center of the investigation. His home and office were raided last year by agents with search warrants, and many of his former employees and associates have been under scrutiny.
Legal analysts said the indictment could bring pressure on Mr. Magliocchetti to cooperate in building a case against members of Congress and their aides in the hopes of getting leniency if he is convicted. Federal prosecutors followed that same course in securing the cooperation of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Washington lobbyist freed from prison this year.
Another person whose cooperation prosecutors may be seeking is Magliocchetti’s son, Mark Magliocchetti. As the indictment against his father was announced in Alexandria, Va., Mark Magliocchetti, who was a lobbyist at his father’s firm, pleaded guilty in the same courthouse on Thursday to a single misdemeanor count charging that he and his wife, who was not prosecuted, had made between $120,000 and $200,000 in illegally laundered political contributions since 2002.
A lawyer for Mark Magliocchetti declined to comment on the plea or on the possibility of him cooperating. He faces up to a year in jail at sentencing.
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