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Tag: William Jefferson

Jury in William Jefferson Trial Sees America’s Most Famous Freezer

Well, sure there was key testimony from an FBI agent in the case. But at the end of the day, the jury got to see America’s most famous freezer: William Jefferson’s. The one  where FBI agents found $90,000 in marked FBI bills.

America's Most Famous Freezer
America’s Most Famous Freezer/Government Exhibit

By Jonathan Tilove and Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — The lead FBI agent in the investigation of former Rep. William Jefferson denied Wednesday that he had instructed cooperating witness Lori Mody to play on Jefferson’s emotions, get him drunk, and lure him into taking a bigger share of her company.

“That’s not on her, that’s on him, ” special agent Timothy Thibault said, explaining that Jefferson continued to escalate his demands for a piece of Mody’s business even when he wasn’t under the influence of her wiles and wine.

In its redirect, the prosecution played a videotape from the four-hour, $1,023 dinner Mody and Jefferson shared at Galileo, a fancy Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C., on May 12, 2005, to show that it was Jefferson, not Mody, who was questioning the wait staff about the wine choices, and ordering a 1997 vintage.

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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Jurors See Video of Informant Handing Rep. William Jefferson $100,000

Nearly everyone has heard about the marked $90,000 in FBI money FBI agents found in Jefferson’s home freezer on Aug. 3, 2005. On Tuesday, jurors saw an FBI video of a government informant handing $100,000 to Jefferson in a brief case. When agents raided the freezer, $10,000 of that payoff was missing. The prosecution hopes the video leaves an impression with jurors. It’s also interesting to note how careful Jefferson was during the conversation with the informant, Lori Mody.

The case gained notoriety after the FBI found $90,000 in Jefferson's freezer

The case gained notoriety after the FBI found $90,000 in Jefferson's freezer

By Jonathan Tilove and Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Jurors in the corruption trial of former Rep. William Jefferson saw a videotape Tuesday of the congressman accepting a briefcase packed with $100,000 in cash that prosecutors say was intended as the down payment on a bribe to the vice president of Nigeria.

Four days later, on Aug. 3, 2005, FBI agents found $90,000 of the marked bills stashed in the freezer at Jefferson’s Washington home.

Four times, from four different camera angles, the prosecution played the July 30, 2005, videotape of Jefferson receiving the briefcase from Lori Mody, the Virginia businesswoman who was his partner in a Nigerian telecommunications venture. Mody had brought the briefcase to their rendezvous in the parking lot of a Ritz Carlton Hotel in suburban Virginia.

“Would you like to take a peek at it, or whatever?” Mody asked as Jefferson removed the briefcase from the car trunk.

“I would not, ” replied Jefferson.

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Pricey Dinner With Congressman William Jefferson and FBI Informant Turns Mushy to Favorite Childrens Book Velveteen Rabbit

velveteen-rabbitjpg3

Business woman Lori Mody wore an FBI wire during the  dinner to help the FBI snare a congressman. But during the pricey meal, the conversation got a little mushy. The two started talking about a favorite childrens book Velveteen Rabbit. Will the conversation make jury more sympathetic to the ex-Congressman?

By Jonathan Tilove
Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — The purpose of the four-hour dinner that William Jefferson shared with Lori Mody on May 12, 2005, at Galileo, one of Washington’s finest restaurants, was ostensibly to talk money, as befits a meal that ended up costing the FBI $1,023.15.

The amount of Jefferson’s equity share in Mody’s Nigerian venture was the main item on the official agenda.

But, according to excerpts of tapes, which were secretly recorded by Mody for the government and released Thursday by Jefferson’s defense team, it was about much more.

It was about trust and loyalty and human frailty. It was about fathers and daughters, about Jefferson’s pride in his five grown girls — “the best thing I did right” — and Mody’s advising Jefferson that perhaps in him, she had found a man with a rare combination of intellect and “street smarts,” a man she could trust like no one since her father.

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Second Imprisoned Witness Who Confessed to Bribing Jefferson Testifies

alexandria-mapBrett Pfeffer, a former Jefferson aide, is the second person who has testified who has pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson and is serving time in prison. That has to be tough for the defense to explain to the jury that two people have admitted bribing the Jefferson, but that Jefferson is innocent.

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Defense attorneys for former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson played a recording Wednesday from a May 2005 lunch meeting in which Brett Pfeffer, a former Jefferson aide, assured investor Lori Mody that their dealings with the Democratic congressman were perfectly legal.

At the time of the conversation, Pfeffer worked for Mody, who ran a Virginia educational foundation. It was Pfeffer who brought Jefferson and Mody together and led Mody to sink $3.5 million into a deal to buy the Nigerian distribution rights for a telecommunications technology that Jefferson was promoting.

Asked by Jefferson attorney Amy Jackson how he squared the taped comments with his testimony Tuesday that he knew from the beginning that his and Mody’s dealings with Jefferson were illegal, Pfeffer said he didn’t want to say anything that would scare Mody away from a project he assumed would make him rich.

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Fed Judge in William J. Jefferson Trial Expresses Frustration at Pace

William J. Jefferson

William J. Jefferson

By Rachel Leven
ticklethewire.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The federal judge in the public corruption trial of ex-Rep. William J. Jefferson chided the government Monday, saying it needed to do a better job focusing its case.

“You, the government, need to focus sharply this case,” said  U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.

Ellis also criticized the defense for some of its line of  questioning during cross examination of a key government witness and remarked:

“If this case lasts six weeks it will certainly be contrary to my intentions.”

The judge’s remarks came in frustration to the pace of the trial, which is expected to last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. Jefferson, 62,  faces 16 public corruption counts including taking bribes and bribing a foreign official.

On Monday, the defense spent time questioning  a government’s key witness Vernon L. Jackson, the president of iGate, a Kentucky company that Jefferson had a financial interest in, and tried to promote in Africa. Jackson is serving a 7 year and 3 month sentence for bribing Jefferson.

Jackson has offered his opinions on the stand, saying his  payments to Jefferson and his family were bribes. But Judge Ellis said it was irrelevant whether any of the witnesses  considered their acts bribes  He said it essentially came down to whether the acts fit the bribery statutes.

Trial resumed  this afternoon with the defense continuing its cross examination of Vernon Jackson.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Jefferson’s Strategy: Congressman Acted As Private Citizen and Didn’t Always Tell the Truth

The second week of trial begins in the Jefferson trial. Jefferson is claiming that his business dealings were private. So far, the prosecution has presented some pretty convincing evidence that Jefferson was acting in his official capacity. In any event, with 16 counts, Jefferson has an uphill battle.

By Bruce Alpert
New Orlean Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — As William Jefferson’s corruption trial moves into its second week of testimony, the former New Orleans congressman’s defense strategy is coming into focus.

Less clear is whether Judge T.S. Ellis III will allow Jefferson’s defense team to present all of its arguments and evidence directly to the 12-member jury.

In his opening statement, Jefferson’s attorney Robert Trout left no doubt about the key element of the congressman’s defense against charges that he demanded and, in some cases, accepted bribes to aid business ventures in Western Africa.

The defense will argue that all the instances cited by the government — including many that the defense says are false or exaggerated — involved private business deals, not official acts, and therefore are not covered by the federal bribery statute.

But Trout also wants to play excerpts of secretly recorded conversations that he said show Jefferson didn’t always tell the truth during conversations with Lori Mody, the Virginia businesswoman who wore a wire for the FBI.

For Full Story

William Jefferson Denies Taking Bribes in Old Campaign Ad

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUwmtzms0MI

Ex-Fed Prosecutor Gallagher’s Read on the Jefferson Case: Money Talks But So Do Witnesses

Stephanie Gallagher

Stephanie Gallagher

By Stephanie Gallagher
Fraud With Peril Blog

Everyone knows that “money talks.” The biggest problem for former Congressman William J. Jefferson, however, may be that witnesses talk, even if money doesn’t.

The case against Congressman Jefferson is infamous because of $90,000 in cash found in his freezer in 2005. When that money was found, the story was all over the news, and many people believed Jefferson guilty, without hearing anything more.

Most people don’t have $90,000 in their freezers, and it is an easy issue for the general public to grasp. Recognizing that position, in opening statements this week, Jefferson’s defense attorney began by providing his explanation for the “cold hard cash:” the money was provided to Jefferson for a bribe, but Jefferson never intended to bribe the foreign official in question, and simply hid the money from his household employees.

The plausibility of that explanation can be debated (and has been debated vociferously at the Levin & Gallagher water cooler). If the jury believes the defense’s explanation, or, more importantly, believes that the government has failed to prove that the frozen money was intended for a bribe, then acquittal is certainly possible on that count.

The government’s decision not to call the cooperating witness (CW) who provided the $90,000 in marked bills to Jefferson may help the defense’s position (although Jefferson’s recorded phone calls with that CW may still provide compelling evidence).

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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
ticklethewire.com
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.

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