Senate ethics panel starts hearings on Williams case

The Senate Ethics Committee began hearings to see if Sen. Harrison's J. Williams's Abscam bribery conviction involved violations of Senate rules. Mr. Williams, the only senator caught in the FBI "sting" operation that led to convictions of six House members, was convicted May 1 on nine counts -- including bribery, conspiracy, and conflict of interest. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and is seeking to overturn the verdict on grounds prosecutors violated his constitutional "due process" rights in conducting the Abscam investigation.

The committee can recommend to the full Senate that he be reprimanded, censured, or expelled. It is expected to decide by September.

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