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Political consultant sentenced for imprisoning students

Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | October 12 2006

A veteran GOP consultant was sentenced today to 5 to 10 years in prison for luring two male college students into his home on separate occasions, holding them captive in his spartan apartment and threatening them with Mafia retaliation if they contacted their friends or family.

A jury convicted Leon Abramovitz, of Shadyside, in July on charges of theft, coercion, false imprisonment, unauthorized practice of law, simple assault, indecent assault and making terroristic threats. His victims, 24-year-old and 22-year-old University of Pittsburgh students, were lured into his home with the promise of jobs tailored to their career goals.

He had pleaded guilty to coercing a teenage boy and a 27-year-old and holding them captive in 1999 and 2000.

The bespectacled defendant appeared before Common Pleas Judge Cheryl Allen in a wheelchair, his white beard making him look decades older than his 59 years. He told the judge he feared for his safety after inmates in his pod at Allegheny County Jail got their hands on a discovery folder from his trial and began calling him a "baby raper" and threatening to have inmates at the state prison "take care of him."

Judge Allen told him he "chose to victimize two people while on probation for the very conduct" he was previously convicted of engaging in. "It's your verbal prowess that poses a danger to society," she said. "As long as you are able to speak, Mr. Abramovitz, you are a danger to society."

The defendant served on the City Council's redistricting committee, for various Republican politicians and served in the Reagan Administration's office of constituent affairs, said his attorney Ira Houck.

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