PMA Group Update

This morning’s Times has today’s update on the PMA Group story.

“Get me some oysters! Get me some steamed crabs! Get me a rack of lamb!” Mr. Magliocchetti would tell the cooks, strolling into the kitchen. “Every day a different thing,” the chef and owner Ermanno Tonizzo recalled fondly. “I don’t think he has ever seen the menu.”

That impresario act — pulling bottles from the private wine locker labeled “Mags” to entertain lawmakers at the clubby Capital Grille steakhouse, sending gift baskets or wine to lawmakers and their aides, or leasing each of his lobbyists a Lexus — helped Mr. Magliocchetti, a protégé of the powerful Representative John P. Murtha, build his lobbying firm into one of the 10 biggest in Washington.

Former PMA staff members familiar with the inquiry say prosecutors’ initial questions have focused on the possibility that Mr. Magliocchetti used straw campaign contributors — a Florida sommelier and a golf club executive, for example, appear to have given large sums in coordination with PMA — as a front to funnel illegal donations to friendly lawmakers, a felony that could carry a minimum sentence of five years.

More alarming to lawmakers and aides, however, is that prosecutors may turn their attention to the dinners at the Alpine and Capital Grille or other gifts they might have accepted from Mr. Magliocchetti — potential violations of longstanding Congressional ethics rules that could lead to more serious bribery charges if linked to official acts.

“All the combustibles are here for a very salacious set of allegations that could go far beyond his campaign finance problems,” said Stanley Brand, a veteran Washington criminal defense lawyer known for representing Democrats.

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