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August 6, 2009

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REPRESENTATIVE JEFFERSON CONVICTED IN FREEZER CASE

William Jefferson

William Jefferson

Former congressman William Jefferson (D-La.) was convicted on 11 of 16 corruption charges by a federal jury on Wednesday after five days of deliberation.

Jefferson was charged with soliciting bribes and other crimes for a series of schemes in which he helped American businesses broker deals in West Africa in exchange for payments or financial considerations to companies controlled by members of his family, including his brother Mose, his wife, Andrea, their five daughters and a son-in-law.

Jefferson, 62, who represented the New Orleans-based 2nd Congressional District for nine terms, will now face sentencing by Judge T.S. Ellis III, who earlier meted out stiff sentences for lesser figures in the case. According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Jefferson faced 235 years in prison if convicted on all counts, and will still face substantial prison time.

The Louisiana Democrat was the first member of Congress ever charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He was accused of trying to bribe Nigerian officials over a telecom contract for a business associate. Jefferson secretly controlled part of the company seeking the contract, and if successful, would have been in line to potentially earn millions of dollars in illicit profits.

In July 2005, Jefferson was secretly filmed by FBI agents taking a $100,000 bribes from a government informant. A raid on his Virginia home turned up $90,000 in marked money in the freezer.


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