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Inquiry Into Lobbyist Sputters After Demotion

The unusual financial deal between Jack Abramoff and officials in Guam drew scrutiny.

August 07, 2005|Walter F. Roche Jr. | Times Staff Writer

The career prosecutor, who had held a senior position as first assistant before accepting the acting U.S. attorney job, was demoted to a staff post. Black's demotion came after an intensive lobbying effort by supporters of Gov. Gutierrez, who had been publicly critical of Black and his investigative efforts.

Black declined to comment for this article.

Black's successor, Leonardo Rapadas, was confirmed in May 2003 without any debate. Rapadas had been recommended by the Guam Republican Party for the job. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist who had been under contract to the Gutierrez administration, said he carried that recommendation to top Bush aide Karl Rove in early 2003.

After taking office, Rapadas recused himself from the ongoing public corruption case involving Gutierrez. The new U.S. attorney was a cousin of "one of the main targets," according to a confidential memo to Justice Department officials.

Rapadas declined to comment and referred questions about his recusal to Justice Department officials, who did not respond to requests for comment.

Erin Healy, a Bush spokeswoman, would not comment on the recusal but defended Rapadas' appointment, saying that he was "well known and well respected" and had served for more than a decade as an assistant attorney general in the Guam government.

Abramoff is now the subject of Senate and federal grand jury inquiries related to his dealings with Indian tribes. He also has drawn controversy for his role in arranging foreign trips for congressional leaders, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

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