Court Watch - POSTED: 2011/02/11 13:47
A federal jury on Thursday found that a former congressional aide broke the law by taking a trip to the World Series with a corporate official and lobbyist who picked up the tab. It was the 21st consecutive conviction in a broad corruption investigation tied to Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Jurors found Fraser Verrusio, 41, guilty of conspiracy and accepting an illegal gratuity for the trip to the first game of the 2003 World Series in New York. He also was found guilty of making a false statement for failing to report the trip on his House financial disclosure form.
Verrusio was policy director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee under the chairman at the time, Rep. Don Young, a Republican who still represents Alaska in the House. The trip was paid by United Rentals, a construction equipment rental company that was a client of Abramoff's firm and wanted Verrusio's help getting an amendment to a highway money bill.
Verrusio's lawyers said the trip was a legitimate business meeting and that Verrusio did nothing for the company in return. They suggested that federal agents pursued him because he refused to wear a wire in a separate corruption investigation of Young. The congressman was never charged.