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The Infamous $90,000 in the Freezer Was a Weak Link in a Strong Case Against William Jefferson

VOTERS IN LOUISIANA, ON SATURDAY, KICKED OUT OF OFFICE DEMOCRATIC SENATOR WILLIAM JEFFERSON. YOU REMEMBER THIS GUY? REMEMBER THE GUY WHO WAS INDICTED LAST YEAR FOR HAVING $90,000 IN BRIBE MONEY, IN CASH, IN HIS FREEZER. WELL, THE VOTERS KICKED HIM OUT OF OFFICE. HOW IRONIC IS THAT? THE ONLY POLITICIAN IN WASHINGTON WHO ACTUALLY SAVED SOME MONEY. HE HAD MONEY LEFT. MAKE HIM TREASURY SECRETARY. GIVE HIM – PUT ALL OUR MONEY IN THE FREEZER!

Jay Leno 12-26-08

Jay Leno

Jay Leno

****
FROM LOUISIANA, WILLIAM JEFFERSON – YOU KNOW THE GUY THAT WAS CAUGHT WITH $90,000 IN HIS FREEZER. HE’S BEEN INDICTED ON 16 CORRUPTION CHARGES. THAT’S WILLIAM JEFFERSON. DON’T CONFUSE HIM WITH HIS WIFE, WEEZIE. IS THAT – IS HIS WIFE WEEZIE?

Jay Leno  6-7-07

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON - Once the FBI found the $90,000 in William Jefferson’s the freezer, the jokes kept coming.

To the general public, the freezer, the $90,000, the absurdity of it all, surely told of an open and shut case. Most assumed it was the “smoking gun”.

In reality, the case was about so much more. And truth be told, even before trial, the cold cash started to look like one of the weaker links in the case.

The jury saw that. On Wednesday, it convicted ex-Rep. William Jefferson of 11 of 16 counts. But it acquitted him on five counts, including the one linked to the $90,000 – bribing a foreign official.

The marked FBI money had been given to Jefferson (actually $100,000) in July 2005 by a Virginia investor, Lori Mody. She was wearing an FBI wire. The money was supposed to be a bribe to the vice president of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar to grease the skids for a business deal.

A few days later, FBI agents raided the vice president’s home in Potomac, Md. , hoping to find the money. That would have nailed that bribe down, completed the circle. Instead, they found the money in Jefferson’s freezer at his home on Capitol Hill – minus $10,000.

The government claimed during trial that Jefferson just didn’t have the time to pass the money on because the vice president had left the country. But they said the intent to bribe a foreign official was there, and that was good enough.

During trial, Jefferson’s attorney Robert Trout claimed Jefferson never intended to pass the money on and foolishly played along to make Mody feel good.

Sure it was stupid, Trout said. And yes, Jefferson may have swindled Mody out of some money. But he didn’t intend to bribe the vice president as charged.

Trout did a good job of raising questions during his closing argument – enough for the jury to have some reasonable doubt.

Fortunately for the prosecution, there was so much more to nail Jefferson on.  In the end, regardless of the intent, the money didn’t end up being a gift to the Nigerian vice president, but rather a gift to comics like Jay Leno.

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Time August 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm

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