Former procurement chief indicted again

A former top Bush administration procurement official faces a fresh set of charges for allegedly lying to federal officials and obstructing an investigation into his relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The Justice Department re-indicted David Safavian, the former chief of staff for the General Services Administration and ex-administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget, on four counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing justice. Two of the false statement charges are new, while the other three counts date back to his original 2005 indictment.

A jury convicted Safavian in June 2006 on charges of making false statements to Senate investigators, a GSA ethics official and the agency's inspector general, and of obstructing an investigation. He was cleared on a fifth charge of obstructing an investigation by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously agreed to dismiss the charge of lying to the IG, arguing that prosecutors had presented "tenuous legal arguments." The appeals court ordered a new trial for the three remaining counts.

The new indictment includes two additional charges: that Safavian lied on a financial disclosure form and provided false statements to the FBI regarding an August 2002 golf trip to Scotland with Abramoff and seven others while serving as GSA's chief of staff.

The FBI charge also alleges that Safavian lied about Abramoff's inquiries into a pair of GSA properties. Abramoff now is serving a four-year prison sentence.

Reached by e-mail, Safavian's attorney, Barbara Van Gelder, said she was traveling and had not yet seen the new indictment.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the new charges and said a trial date has not yet been set.

The indictment claims that on May 12, 2003, Safavian filed a financial disclosure form in which he was required to report any gifts received during the previous year. The completed form did not include any mention of the Scotland trip -- the total cost of which exceeded $150,000.

Safavian "certified that the statements he had made on the … financial disclosure form and all attached schedules were true, complete and correct to the best of his knowledge; when in truth and in fact as [he] well knew, he was required to report the August 2002 trip," the indictment stated.

Prosecutors claim Safavian accepted thousands of dollars in free airfare, hotels, meals and rounds of golf at the historic Old Course at St. Andrews. Safavian, however, claims that he had permission from a GSA ethics officer to accept the travel, but that he nonetheless provided Abramoff with a check for $3,100 for his share of the trip.

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