Ney Aide Gets Light Sentence

A former congressional aide who pleaded guilty to conspiracy drew a probation-only sentence today, in exchange for his help in putting his former boss behind bars.

Through tears, Neil Volz apologized for his crime, which led to criminal charges stemming from the long-running Abramoff investigation.

"I know the difference between right and wrong," he told U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle, "and what I did was wrong."

Volz, a former chief of staff to Republican ex-Rep. Bob Ney, helped prosecutors build a bribery case against his old boss, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and false statements charges relating to the Abramoff scandal. Volz also testified against former White House official David Safavian. Both men were convicted.

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Volz had been facing a maximum five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

After months of pugnatious denials, Ney finally admitted last September to exchanging official acts for trips and favors from disgraced former GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff. He is now serving a 30-month sentence.

When Volz left Ney's office, he went to work for Abramoff and served as a key conduit between the lobbyist and the lawmaker.

Volz also testified as a government witness against Safavian, who was sentenced to 18 months on four felony counts for lying to investigators about his relationship with Abramoff. He is appealing. 

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed to this report.

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