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Former congressman jailed for bribery

Former U.S. congressman Bob Ney was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for his role in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Former U.S. congressman Bob Ney was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for his role in a bribery scandal that he blamed largely on his problems with alcohol.

The 52-year-old Ohio Republican was found guilty of trading political favours for gifts and campaign donations from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In his plea bargain last year, Ney admittedhe had "sold" his influence to Abramoff's lobbying operation and others in return for a series of lavish gifts.

He apologized to his family and constituents after admitting he accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of bribes.

Abramoff is currently serving a six-year prison term for a fraudulent deal to buy a fleet of casino ships in Florida. He is awaiting sentencing for influence peddling and is continuing to co-operate with investigators.

He made a name on Capitol Hill by lavishing politicians with football tickets or whisking them offfor faraway golf junkets, thereby becoming the face of government corruption.

The congressman's physician, Dr. Renato Dela Cruz, wrote that Ney's behaviour had been influenced by an increase in alcohol consumption that began in 2001. Cruz said he urged himto cut back, but the recommendation was ignored.

The 30-month prison sentence imposed on Ney was stiffer than the 27 months recommended by prosecutors.

"As a member of Congress, you had the responsibility, above all else really, to set an example and uphold the law," Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle told Ney.

Ney is the only member of Congress to be convicted in the Abramoff influence-peddling investigation, but Alice Fisher, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, suggested other elected officials could be charged.

"The Justice Department will continue to pursue and prosecute public officials who compromise the integrity of elected office for private benefit," Fisher said.

With files from the Associated Press

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