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Abramoff wraps up his prison term at a pizzeria

Jack Abramoff testifying at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hearing
U.S. Senate
Video capture of Jack Abramoff testifying at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hearing in 2004.

Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who bilked millions from several Indian tribes including Michigan's Saginaw Chippewas, has officially been released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Associated Press reports Abramoff spent the last several months of his four-year prison sentence on home confinement with an electronic monitoring bracelet. The halfway house he was assigned to set Abramoff up with a job at a kosher pizzeria in Baltimore.

The AP reports that Abramoff worked at Tov Pizza, "a modest kosher pizzeria in a heavily Jewish section of northwest Baltimore. Abramoff, 51, is an Orthodox Jew and wore a yarmulke to work."

The pizzerias' owner Ron Rosenbluth told the AP that Abramoff developed marketing and customer outreach strategies:

"Obviously we're dealing with a tough economy. I was able to get some of his expertise in marketing. It was interesting; it was nice. He was very helpful."

Abramoff will now serve three years probation.

The Michigan Saginaw Chippewa's paid Abramoff millions of dollars to lobby Congress and the White House on their behalf, even though there didn't appear to be any legislation or efforts to curb their casino gaming practices at the time. In 2004, Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post wrote a piece "A Jackpot From Indian Gaming Tribes" in which she said the tribe's payments to Abramoff were comparable to what major corporations paid to other lobbying firms in Washington.

In the piece Audrey Falcon, a newly elected chief of the Saginaw Chippewas at the time, told tribe members: 

"$14 million of your dollars was spent for lobbyists that yielded little or no results for our tribe."

A new movie titled "Casino Jack" is now out starring Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff. Spacey was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his portrayal. But he's up against Johnny Depp (so chances of a win are slim).

Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.