I finally got my 18-135mm zoom lens back from the folks at Abolins. Unfortunately Abolins got my lens mixed up with another similar lens that came in nearly the same time mine did. To Nikon's credit it appears they turned the repair around in about four weeks. Abolins didn't figure out that they had given my lens to someone else until my call (at eight weeks) prompted them to recheck the paperwork and serial numbers.
And I have since found that others have experienced a similar problem
The good news is it's back in my hands, and I can start using my new camera again!