Ex-aide to former Congressman Ney pleads guilty to conspiracy charges
A former chief of staff to former Ohio Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty Monday to federal conspiracy charges, accusing him of accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff and his associates, according to an AP report (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-02-26-heaton_x.htm).
William Heaton, 28, was the Ohio republican's chief of staff from 2002 to 2006, when Ney resigned. Ney was sentenced to 30 months in prison in January after confessing to recieving bribes from Abramoff.
Heaton helped accompanied Ney on trips funded by Abramoff and other lobbyists in return for favors. Heaton was also charged with concealing gifts given to Ney by lobbyists.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Heaton faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine (http://www.columbusdispatch.com/national-story.php?story=dispatch/2007/02/27/20070227-A3-03.html).
Neil Volz, Ney's previous chief of staff with ties to Abramoff also plead guilty last year to federal charges.
Heaton, along with Ney, had also been involved in illegal business deals with Syrian businessman, Fouad al-Zayat. Zayat had given Ney $50,000 in gambling chips at a British casino, after Ney promised to help lift the U.S. trade ban with Iran, where Zayat wanted to sell airplanes.
Heaton, along with a third, unnamed aide, was involved in concealing this money.
The AP article takes a standard hard news lead and story structure. It begins with Monday's plea and then gives some background into the details of the case. There is an integral quote in the middle of the story to support the article's main points, showing the connections between Heaton and Abramoff. The Columbus dispatch article, in my opinion, was much more interesting because it was very detailed and unique. Instead of bringing up Abramoff, it chronologically tells the story of Ney and Heaton's business deal with Zayat. I also liked how the lead was just a description of the safe in Ney's office. It worked well to illuminate the entire theme of the rest of the article. The only problem with the article was that it was difficult to tell where all this information had come from. Some of it seemed unattributed.