Abscam—sometimes written ABSCAM—was a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sting operation in the late 1970s and early 1980s that led to the convictions of seven members of the United States Congress, among others.
The two-year investigation initially targeted trafficking in stolen property and corruption of prestigious businessmen, but was later converted to a public corruption investigation.
The FBI employed Melvin Weinberg, a convicted swindler, international con artist and informant, and his girlfriend Evelyn Knight, to help plan and conduct the operation.
They were facing a prison sentence at the time and in exchange for their help, the FBI agreed to let them out on probation.
When a forger who was under investigation suggested to the sheikhs that they invest in casinos in New Jersey and that licensing could be obtained for a price, the Abscam operation was retargeted toward political corruption.
Each congressman who was approached would be given a large sum of money in exchange for "private immigration bills" to allow foreigners associated with Abdul Enterprises into the country and for building permits and licenses for casinos in Atlantic City, among other investment arrangements.
In exchange for monetary kickbacks, Errichetti told the sheikhs' representatives "I'll give you Atlantic City." Errichetti helped to recruit several government officials and United States congressmen who were willing to grant political favors in exchange for monetary bribes (originally 0,000 but then reduced to ,000).
Williams served two years of his three-year sentence at a federal penitentiary in Newark, New Jersey.
He served the remainder of his term at the Integrity House halfway house, where he became a member of the board of directors until his death by cancer on November 17, 2001.
Because of the convictions, the Senate Ethics Committee voted to censure Senator Williams and put a motion to the floor to expel him for charges of bringing dishonor upon the Senate and his "ethically repugnant behavior".
Supporters of Williams moved that the censure was enough, and that the expulsion was unnecessary.