In our continuing efforts to present both sides of the story, let's look at how Mr. Ring and his attorneys respond to Count IX and Count X of his indictment. Both counts allege that Mr. Ring committed Obstruction of Justice when he lied to investigators who Mr. Ring knew were likely to transmit the findings of their investigation to the Justice Department and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
The government alleges that Mr. Ring made material false statements, material misrepresentations, and material omissions regarding his role in acquiring the Sandia Pueblo Indian tribe as a client for his law firm, Greenberg Traurig (GT), and Michael Scanlon's public relations firm, Capitol Campaign Strategies (CCS). Basically, the indictment says that Mr. Ring was more deeply involved than he admitted to the investigator. For more background, focus on pages 43-45 of the indictment.
In Mr. Ring's Reply to the Government's Opposition to Kevin A. Ring's Motion to Sever Counts1, Mr. Ring argues that Messrs. Abramoff and Scanlon hid details regarding fees to be paid by the Sandia Pueblo. From pages 3-4:
The government repeatedly argues that "Defendant and Mr. Abramoff" agreed to change the New Mexico Tribe's fee arrangement when it knows the change was made against Mr. Ring's wishes and worked to the financial detriment of Mr. Ring. When Mr. Ring complained to Mr. Abramoff that the new arrangement would significantly reduce his compensation, Mr. Abramoff promised to make Mr. Ring whole by having Mr. Scanlon give Mr. Ring a portion of Mr. Scanlon's profit on the deal. Mr. Ring accepted the money.
Unbeknownst to Mr. Ring at the time, Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon had a secret agreement whereby Mr. Scanlon paid a significant portion of all money he received through Abramoff referrals back to Mr. Abramoff. The government is in possession of email traffic between Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon about this very matter, in which Mr. Abramoff mocked Mr. Ring, calling him a "faggot", "loser", and "idiot", and complained that they would have to share a portion of their $2.7 million take to replace what Mr. Ring would have realized for bringing in a new case to his firm. The suggestion that Mr. Ring implemented the change in the New Mexico Tribe's engagement of the firm is ridiculous. 3
3 As is the notion that Mr. Ring was conspiring with Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon at the very time that their secret emails prove they were concealing the nature of their financial side-dealing from not only the clients, but Mr. Ring. Mr. Ring has raised the fundamental inability of the government to define and prove the illegal agreement from the time of his first substantive filing in this case and submits that it will continue to be an element the government is unable to prove.
Emphasis in original; Citation omitted
First, the ACR Blog would like to submit for the record that there is some language in the above court filing that is not exactly befitting a family blog like our own. In over three years of blogging, the ACR Blog has never before used the words "f-----", "loser" or "idiot". Attorneys for Mr. Ring believe that if we know that these words were used to describe their client, we'll be more sympathetic to him. So even though these words aren't typically used by the author of the ACR Blog, we will begin to call Mr. Ring a "f-----", "loser" and/or "idiot" in the future.
In addition to the sympathy ploy above, Mr. Ring and his attorneys also contend that he wasn't really involved in negotiation of the fee agreement with the Sandia Pueblo. This is obvious, say Mr. Ring and his lawyers, because the fee agreement with GT was to Mr. Ring's detriment. (The ACR Blog doesn't really understand this argument because Mr. Ring and his lawyers later claim that Mr. Ring was made "whole" through a side agreement with Mr. Scanlon's CCS. It seems to the ACR Blog that if Mr. Ring was made "whole", the fee structure wasn't to Mr. Ring's detriment.)
It seems that Mr. Ring's version of events isn't supported by the evidence, though.
Was Mr. Ring involved in negotiating the fee structure with the Pueblo Sandia?
Mr. Ring and his attorneys say that the suggestion that Mr. Ring implemented the reduction in fees paid to GT is ridiculous (see last sentence, 2nd paragraph in above quote). This isn't what the indictment alleges, though. On page 41, the indictment says:
4. Sometime between February 14, 2002 and March 12, 2002, defendant RING, in order to secure the New Mexico tribe as a client, agreed to Abramoff's reducing Firm B's fee from $125,000 per month to $50,000 per month and, unknown to the New Mexico tribe, further agreed with Abramoff to personally accept approximately five percent of $2.75 million (Scanlon's expected fee for the grassroots services), or $135,000. As a result, on or about March 12, 2002, the [N]ew Mexico tribe hired Firm B [GT] at a rate of $50,000 per month.
US District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle has already observed that Mr. Ring and his lawyers have misread and mischaracterized the indictment in their motion to dismiss the ten counts pending against Mr. Ring. Now, in their Reply to the Government's Opposition to Sever, we have Mr. Ring and his lawyers saying that it is "ridiculous" to suggest that Mr. Ring implemented the change to the fees paid by the Sandia Pueblo. But clearly, as we see above, the indictment says it was Mr. Abramoff who lowered the fee and that Mr. Ring merely agreed to this new arrangement. Either this is an attempt to mislead the Judge by intentionally misconstruing what is stated in the indictment, or this is an example of poor reading comprehension skills of Mr. Ring and his attorneys.
While the indictment clearly states that Mr. Abramoff reduced the fees the Sandia Pueblo were to pay to GT, it seems silent as to who negotiated the fee to be paid by the Sandia Pueblo to Scanlon's CCS. Amazingly, a March 7, 2002 email string between Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon seems to suggest that Mr. Ring negotiated the CCS fee:
Mr. Scanlon: 2.75 [million dollars] is chump change! ! ! What [t]he hell were we thinking?
Mr. Abramoff: No kidding. Ring brought us down! Next time one of these guys brings us something we are not going to listen to their f------ whining.
Mr. Scanlon: Hey - it[']s still a W-- and I will take the W any way we can - now a 4.5 [million dollar] W would be nicer - but wait till Thursday when C[o]ush comes to town!
Mr. Abramoff: Good Point
The ACR Blog interprets this exchange to mean that Mr. Ring was somehow involved in setting the fee paid by the Sandia Pueblo to CCS. While Mr. Scanlon expected the fee paid by the Sandia Pueblo to be $4.5 million, that "idiot" Mr. Ring was somehow involved in lowering the fee to $2.75 million. Looks to the ACR Blog that Mr. Ring is involved more than he admits.
Mr. Ring and his lawyers also admit that Mr. Ring was made "whole" through the CCS kickback scheme where Mr. Ring received money from CCS. Being made "whole" implies to the ACR Blog that the amount of the kickback he received from CCS was roughly equal to the compensation Mr. Ring gave up when the fee paid to GT was lowered. The ACR Blog questions this premise. As evidence, we offer another email exchange (March 20-21) between Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff:
Mr. Scanlon: [Ring] asked if we got the wire yet in an email. I have no problem telling him yes - what do we owe him again? 10% of profit?
Mr. Abramoff: No. 5% of gross. I told him that he would split the profit (which I told him was 10%) with you 50-50.
Mr. Scanlon: So we owe him 135k??
Mr. Abramoff: Damn I guess so. S---, that sucks.
Mr. Scanlon: I forgot to tie that [amount in] to the sandia figures - so our numbers are going to come down a little bit.
Mr. Abramoff: Finders fee I guess. I had a chat with Candace last night. Give me a buzz at home.
Messrs. Abramoff and Scanlon seem quite surprised at the amount they agreed to pay Mr. Ring. The way they reacted, it looks like they're paying Mr. Ring much more than they intended. The ACR Blog wonders if Mr. Ring actually received more money through the CCS kickback scheme than he would have if the fee paid to GT had never been reduced. We strongly suspect that to be the case, but ultimately we don't have the proof we'd like to have to make that conclusion.
Because Mr. Ring and his lawyers have a penchant of mischaracterizing the indictment, the ACR Blog fears that when the defense team says that Mr. Ring was made "whole", even that description is another mischaracterization. If we believe the exchange in the emails above, Mr Ring was more than made whole - he actually profited quite handsomely from the new fee arrangement.
1 For additional discussion of the Reply to the Government's Opposition to Kevin A. Ring's Motion to Sever Counts and other documents related to USA vs. Kevin Ring, be sure to read this post at Unheard No More!