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June 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

FBI Tapes Capture ex-Rep. William Jefferson’s Obscenities and Concern About Going to the “Pokey”

Ex-Rep. Jefferson

Ex-Rep. Jefferson

By Allan Lengel
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson was swearing. Oh was he swearing. And the FBI was secretly recording it all back in 2005, hoping the day would come when it could play the unflattering tapes to a federal jury in open court.

Thursday was that day.

At one point, on one tape amid the swearing, Jefferson expressed concern about going to prison, or the “pokey” as he put it, if word ever got out about his secret business dealings.

The jury in the public corruption trial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria listened to his conversations with headphones as did the bespectacled Jefferson himself.

The 62-year-old looked every bit as dignified as the Harvard lawyer he is, sitting at the defense table, clad in a dark suit, but at times on the FBI  tapes he sounded more like a wayward sailor on a weekend leave.

The government played the tapes in the third day of trial as it tried to show that Jefferson had a clear financial interest in iGate, a high tech company , and was using his Congressional office to promote the business in Africa.

The company had a patent to use existing copper telephone lines, instead of expensive fiber optics, to transmit the Internet and cable television.

Jefferson faces 16 public corruption charges and has insisted he is innocent . His defense team says he was acting as a private citizen when he promoted the business.

But the government insists he used his Congressional seat to profit, took bribes and bribed a foreign official to try and land iGate a lucrative contract.

After the tapes played, Vernon Jackson, the president of iGate, sat in a faded forest green prison suit on the witness stand interpreting or clarifying the conversations. Jackson pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson and got a 7 year and 3 month prison sentence.

Repeatedly, Jackson said the Congressman was calling a lot of the business shots for iGate and acting in his official capacity as a Congressman when promoting his business. Repeatedly, he said on Wednesday that he bribed Jefferson as a Congressman to promote his business.

In one FBI-taped conversation around June of 2005, Jefferson was talking to Jackson.

Jackson wanted to replace chief investor Lori Mody. Jackson said Mody , who had already put up millions of dollars, was supposed to put up more , but hadn’t.

Jefferson, who had been talking to Mody, suggested to Jackson that Mody might expose their questionable dealings in a lawsuit if she got pushed out and “we’ll all be in the god damn pokey fooling with shit like this.”

“That’s bullshit,” Jefferson continued. “She’s put up her goddamn money. Lori isn’t stupid. She’s going to file suit, she’s going to say ‘Fuck No’.”

Afterwards, under questioning, Jackson said Jefferson feared Mody would expose his “not above board” business dealings in a lawsuit.

Little did they both know that Mody had already gone to the FBI out of concern she was being ripped off.  Mody agreed to wear an FBI wire and record conversations with Jefferson and Jackson.

Meanwhile, as the FBI was on the trail,  Jackson continued to experience financial difficulties with the business.

During testimoy Thursday, he described a meeting in which Jefferson tried to take over the business and essentially push him out. He said he rejected that offer.

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