New FBI documents detail Murtha's role in Abscam

Videotape shows the congressman being asked for help in gaining permanent resident status for an Arab sheik

Published May 25, 2010 4:35PM (EDT)

Newly released FBI documents on Monday detailed the role of the late Rep. John Murtha in the Abscam scandal, the law enforcement sting that damaged the congressman's reputation early in his political career.

The documents on the FBI's 3-decade-old investigation state that "during the course of the operations, Abscam has developed prosecutive federal cases against" 15 people, including Murtha.

The Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania was never charged, but the government named him as an unindicted coconspirator. He testified against two other congressmen.

FBI agents captured Murtha on videotape turning down a $50,000 bribe offer, while holding out the possibility that he might take money in the future.

Murtha died in February.

The FBI documents characterized the videotaped session with Murtha in which the congressman was asked for his cooperation in gaining permanent resident status for an Arab sheik.

"During this meeting Murtha pledged his support, however, indicated he would not accept the money at that time. He advised that he was aware" that two other congressmen "had already accepted money and were presently working on the political asylum problem."

(This version CORRECTS time of investigation to three decades ago, sted two.)

By Pete Yost


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