Jack Abramoff Out of Prison But Still Rolling in Dough

Cynthia Dermody
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pizza dough stretched out on baking stoneWhen you want to keep your building safe, you hire a former cop as a security guard. When you want to engage your kids, you hire a former teacher as a nanny. When you want to sell more pizzas, you hire ... Jack Abramoff, the former Republican lobbyist convicted of fraud and bribery?

Abramoff, now 51, an Orthodox Jew, started a brand-new job this week at Tov Pizza, "Baltimore's Best Kosher Pizza," according to the website. His four-year sentence isn't up till December, but he left his minimum-security prison and moved to a halfway house in the beginning of June. Now he's living at home under "confinement," according to an agreement with the Bureau of Prisons.

There have been so many political scandals since Abramoff was sentenced in 2008 that you may not remember him as well as others fresh on the page. Abramoff was accused and eventually convicted of bribing numerous Republican lawmakers and White House officials. He gave them meals, gifts, trips, and sports tickets in exchange for political sway that helped him secure millions in federal grants and funding for his interests. He also confessed to defrauding wealthy Indian casino owners out of millions in another scheme.

The longtime Republican's crimes led to the convictions of an Ohio Congressman and a deputy Secretary of the Interior under President Bush, with whom Abramoff was once photographed.

And now he's a pizza guy, a position he found through a volunteer organization that ran his halfway house. A lot of writers have been poking fun of Abramoff's fall from grace from Washington power broker to lowly kitchen help. My bet is that he's probably thrilled to be away from all that nastiness and corruption. And this is something he has experience in and enthusiasm for, as owner of the former Signatures restaurant in Washington, D.C., where he, um, well, used to wine and dine all those bribe-taking lawmakers.

Somehow I don't expect he'll be exposed to the same clientele in this new joint. And that's a good thing. Hopefully he's turned around and learned his lesson.

According to the restaurant's owner, Ron Rosenbluth, Abramoff was brought on board to help with marketing at the establishment, which has been around since 1984. In addition to pizza, which comes sans pepperoni, the restaurant also serves side dishes, sandwiches, pasta, humus and other Middle Eastern dishes, knishes, calzones, salads, and desserts.

Next time I'm in Baltimore, I might have to make a special stop to see how that marketing campaign is going. I'd be perfectly willing to let Abramoff "bribe" me with the falafel plate and a slice of homemade cheesecake. Sounds so delish.

 

Image via kimbesa05/Flickr

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