Judge upholds conviction of former Bush official

A federal judge declined Tuesday to throw out a conviction or order a new trial for a former Bush administration official convicted of lying about his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

David Safavian, former chief of staff of the General Services Administration, was convicted in June of making false statements and obstruction. It was the first trial to emerge from the scandal surrounding Abramoff.

His attorneys argued that the charges didn’t meet the legal standard for conviction. They also said U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman improperly admitted into evidence e-mails between Abramoff and Safavian. The e-mails discuss two pieces of GSA-controlled property that Abramoff wanted for himself or his lobbying clients.

Many of the e-mails were written around the time that Safavian accepted a weeklong trans-Atlantic golfing trip from Abramoff.

Friedman rejected that argument, denying the request for a new trial. He said the e-mails were properly admitted and noted that Safavian discussed the e-mails when testifying in his own defense.

The judge also rejected Safavian’s argument that his conviction should be overturned because government officials never warned him about the consequences of lying. Friedman said such warnings are not required.

Safavian faces up to five years in prison on each count. He resigned from his White House post last year as the federal government’s chief procurement officer.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press