Government Agrees to Dismissal of All Felony Charges Against Defendant in Abramoff-Related Prosecution
Attorneys from Ropes & Gray LLP, in connection with the Federal Public Defender’s office in Washington, D.C., achieved a high-profile victory this week in a white-collar criminal case related to the ongoing conspiracy surrounding the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Ropes & Gray's client, prominent conservative political commentator Horace Cooper, was charged with five felony counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the United States and to perform official acts in exchange for illegal gratuities, making false statements under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, and obstruction of justice. Following an extended hearing on pretrial motions to dismiss filed by Ropes, Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia summarily dismissed a false statements charge against Mr. Cooper and stated that motions to dismiss on conspiracy and other false statements charges would be taken under advisement.
Following the hearing, prosecutors from the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice offered to dismiss all charges against Mr. Cooper (the remaining four felony counts) and allow him to plead to a misdemeanor charge of falsely certifying records. Mr. Cooper is the first defendant in any Abramoff prosecution to receive only a misdemeanor without providing significant evidence against other individuals, and even most of the cooperating defendants in the scandal have pled to felonies. Under the plea agreement, which was entered in a plea hearing on April 7, the United States will dismiss the indictment against Mr. Cooper following his sentencing on the misdemeanor charge.
Mr. Cooper, a former chief of staff for former Rep. Dick Armey and a nationally recognized conservative commentator and author, has been described as a Republican “Top Gun” in a front page Washington Times profile. He has served as a Senior Fellow with two Washington, D.C. based think tanks: the Centre for New Black Leadership and the National Center for Public Policy Research. He also writes a regular political analysis column for the Washington Times and United Press International and has served as a professor at the George Mason University School of Law. Mr. Cooper is also well known for his frequent appearances as a panelist on the HBO television program “Politically Incorrect.”
Said Mr. Cooper: "My family and I are so grateful that this ordeal is over. It will be so good to get this whole thing behind me."
On the Ropes team were Colleen Conry, John Carroll, and Tony Biagioli.
Michelle Peterson and Mary Petras from the Federal Public Defender’s office also represented Mr. Cooper.