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Former GSA official gets 18 months

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- A former General Services Administration official was sentenced in Washington Friday to 18 months in federal prison for helping lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

David Safavian wept as he told U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman that at the time he did not realize that passing on inside information about properties controlled by the GSA was wrong, the Washington Post reported.

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"I didn't see anything wrong in helping Jack," he said. "I thought as long as I wasn't providing procurement information, I was OK."

A jury found Safavian guilty of lying to a GSA investigator and to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Friedman held a hearing that lasted most of the day before deciding to give Safavian a sentence significantly shorter than the 30 to 36 months federal prosecutors wanted. Safavian's lawyers argued for an alternative sentence that would avoid incarceration.

"Did he believe in public service? I guess he did," the judge said of Safavian. "But he also wanted someday to join Mr. Abramoff in that lucrative lobbying business."

Abramoff has admitted to conspiring to corrupt public officials and defrauding his clients out of millions of dollars.

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