Former procurement chief denied new trial

A Bush administration procurement official convicted of lying about his relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has failed in his attempt to win a new trial.

David Safavian -- who in December 2008 was found guilty of obstructing an investigation by the General Services Administration, lying on a financial disclosure form and two counts of making false statements -- had argued the false statements were immaterial to the government's investigations into a 2002 golf trip with Abramoff.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, however, disagreed, stating in a July 21 decision that a reasonable juror could have determined that the statements were material and found Safavian guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which the jury did. Safavian was head of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy from November 2004 until September 2005, but the charges relate to a trip he took while he was chief of staff at GSA.

Safavian also had argued for a new trial on the grounds of "prosecutorial vindictiveness." He said it was spiteful of prosecutors to add additional counts to his charge following the successful appeal of his initial conviction. Friedman dismissed this claim as well, stating the prosecution provided sufficient justification for filing additional charges.

"The court finds that there was no miscarriage of justice, that no substantial error was committed and that the defendant's substantial rights were not affected," Friedman wrote.

Safavian is "disappointed and discouraged," but has not made a decision regarding a second appeal, a friend and former colleague told Government Executive. He will remain free on bond, as he has been since his Dec. 19, 2008, conviction, until his sentencing hearing on Oct. 15.

Safavian's lawyers could not be reached for comment.

Robert Brodsky contributed to this story.

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