Lobbyist admits providing freebies

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- A former lobbyist has pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington to providing trips to the 2003 World Series for two congressional aides.

At the time, James Hirni was a lobbyist for an equipment rental company, The Washington Post reported Saturday. He later went to work for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which dismissed him last month.


Federal prosecutors said that Hirni not only got World Series tickets for the staffers but provided free airfare to New York, where the Yankees were playing the Florida Marlins, hotel rooms, an SUV with chauffeur and entertainment at a strip club. Trevor L. Blackann, a former legislative assistant to Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., admitted last month that he failed to report lobbyist gifts worth $4,100 as income, while the other aide has only been identified as a staff member of the House Transportation Committee.

Hirni pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to deprive the public of the aides' honest services. U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts did not set a sentencing date.

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