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Tag: William Jefferson

Convicted Businessman Delivers Some Blows in ex-Rep. Jefferson’s Corruption Trial

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson
Ex-Rep. William Jefferson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – He was a presence on the witness stand; a burly man with shaved head, glasses, facial hair and strong voice, dressed in a faded forest green prison jumpsuit with the word “Prisoner” barely legible on the back. He exuded the confidence of the businessman he once was before heading off to federal prison for bribing a Congressman named William J. Jefferson.

Time after time on Wednesday, for the second day in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the government’s key witness Vernon L. Jackson, 58, steadily delivered damaging blows, saying Jefferson had essentially lied and deceived and lied some more.

Yes, he said, Jefferson had a hidden financial interest in his Kentucky-based high tech company i-Gate. Yes, he paid bribes to Jefferson to influence foreign leaders to promote his company that was selling technology to transmit the Internet and cable television in rural Africa.

Yes, he said, Jefferson was using his Congressional position in exchange for money. And Yes, Jackson knew it was wrong to pay a Congressman to promote his business. For the jurors, his prison suit was a pretty good reminder of his crime.

And oh yes. He hoped to shave some serious time off his 7-plus years prison sentence by cooperating with the government. That was the agreement when he pleaded guilty.

The testimony was not good for Jefferson, 62, a Harvard lawyer who was once unbeatable as a Congressman – that is until 2005 when the FBI found $90,000 of marked FBI bills in his freezer. The jokes never stopped. And nearly two years later, a big fat indictment followed : 16 public corruption counts that included allegations of  accepting hundreds of thousands of dollar. Last year, he lost in a bid for re-election.

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Some Legal Observers Say Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Trial No Sure Thing

Some legal observers are starting to raise questions about the Rep. William Jefferson case. Some say there’s no guarantee of victory for the prosecution. Jefferson has some top notch defense attorneys. Even so, with the former Congressman facing 16 counts, there’s a good chance, even if the jury is conflicted, it might strike up a compromise and convict on only a few counts, thinking its giving Jefferson a break, not realizing it will only take one felony conviction to send him off to prison. Whatever the case, we’ll soon know the answer. Opening statements begin Tuesday.

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Rep. Jefferson/official photo

Rep. Jefferson/official photo

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — When Peter Zeidenberg, a Washington lawyer and former prosecutor, read about the 2007 indictment of then-Congressman William Jefferson, he figured the Justice Department had a pretty strong case.

Now, he and some other prominent legal experts believe that the Jefferson corruption trial, although unlikely to end in acquittal, could produce a hung jury. A guilty verdict requires all 12 jurors to agree.

After three days of jury selection last week, the trial begins in earnest Tuesday with opening statements from the prosecution and defense.

When the government filed its 16-count corruption indictment in June 2007, alleging that the New Orleans Democrat had demanded and, in some cases, received bribes in return for his help promoting projects in Western Africa, Jefferson’s prospects looked grim.

For Full Story

Big or Small Problem? Key Witness Who Wore FBI Wire Won’t Testify in ex-Rep. Jefferson Trial

The questions that looms large: Will it hurt the prosecution not to have the testimony of key witness Lori Mody, who wore an FBI wire? Some say yes. Sure, the prosecution can still play the FBI tapes, but it would be better if Mody testified. The fact she isn’t obviously means there were some big problems going on behind the scenes.
By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune

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

ALEXANDRIA, VA . — Lori Mody, the Virginia businesswoman who was expected to be the government’s star witness in the federal corruption trial of former Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, will not be called to testify for the prosecution, lawyers said today.

The judge was informed of the government’s decision during a bench conference this morning that was not immediately made public. “We do not intend to call Lori Mody in our case in chief,” lead prosecutor Mark Lytle said without further explanation.

It was Mody who helped spark the investigation of Jefferson after going to the FBI in March 2005 to complain that she was the victim of fraud in African investments being promoted by the congressman. She agreed to wear a wire and the recordings of her meetings with Jefferson are at the heart of much of the government’s case.

For Full Story

After Many Many Delays, Trial to Begin for Ex-Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson

Early on in this whole thing, Congressman William Jefferson had an opportunity to plead guilty and get about six years. Before things got too far along, he decided to pass and fight this. Well, here’s his opportunity.The ex-Congressman’s public persona has always been that of a  gentleman. But when the jury hears some of the FBI tapes, they may have different thoughts — or at least the prosecution hopes so.

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson while still in office

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson while still in office

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Nearly four years after FBI agents found $90,000 in marked bills stuffed inside the freezer in his Washington D.C. home, former Democratic Rep. William Jefferson will go on trial Tuesday, facing 16 federal bribery and public corruption charges.

While the “cold cash” came to symbolize the case on the Internet and late-night television, the investigation into complex international business deals also made legal history with the first-ever raid on a sitting congressional member’s office and a constitutional battle over the separation of powers and how bribery statutes are applied to members of Congress.

The indictment, which accuses Jefferson of seeking and sometimes receiving payments in return for helping businesses get contracts in western Africa, has already changed politics in both Louisiana and Nigeria.

Jefferson, a long-established New Orleans power broker, lost his bid for a 10th term in December to a relatively unknown Republican, Anh “Joseph” Cao. And Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar lost a run for his nation’s presidency, partly as a result of being listed as the intended recipient of bribes allegedly to be funneled from Jefferson.

Jefferson, 62, has maintained his innocence. If convicted, he would likely face up to 20 years in prison.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-Rep. Jefferson’s Attorneys Mention Ted Stevens Case In Request to Review Government Evidence

Expect defense attorneys to start raising the failed Ted Stevens case when they feel the government isn’t sharing enough evidence. This is just the start. Trial is set for May 26.

William Jefferson

William Jefferson

By Bruce Alpert
Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for former Rep. William Jefferson say government prosecutors run the risk of the sort of problems that brought the Ted Stevens case “to its ignominious conclusion” if they don’t provide them with evidence that could aid the defense.

They make the case in a letter mailed April 2, a day after the Justice Department agreed to drop the case against Stevens, the veteran Alaska senator. The action, in effect, voided a 2008 jury verdict that found Republican Stevens guilty of not revealing in Senate disclosure forms gifts from a government contractor.

The request to drop the case, which the trial judge quickly agreed to, came after the Justice Department conceded that it hadn’t provided defense attorneys with prosecutors’ notes that contradicted testimony from a key government witness.

For Full Story

Attys For Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Accuse Justice Dept. of Editing Recorded Conversations to Give “Misleading Impression”

The legal maneuvering in this case continues as trial approaches. So far, Jefferson’s attorneys haven’t been able to derail the case despite their best efforts.

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson

By Bruce Alpert and Jonathan Tilove
New Orleans Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson say the Justice Department has edited secretly recorded conversations to give a “misleading impression” of their client’s guilt in his upcoming corruption trial.

A defense brief, filed with U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, contains some previously unreleased taped conversations recorded in 2005 before Jefferson learned during an August raid of his house that he was being investigated by the FBI for allegedly seeking bribes in return for his help securing business contracts in Western Africa.

The brief provides both transcripts of the tape selections that the prosecution wants to play for the jury, as well as fuller transcripts that Jefferson’s attorneys say place his statements and actions in a fuller context. Some contain extensive profanity.

 For Full Story

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Trying to Discredit Key Witness By Getting Psychiatric Records

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson’s defense in his upcoming public corruption case is becoming clearer. For one, he insists any of his actions to drum up business for himself was not done under the official capacity of a Congressman. And two, he plans to discredit the sanity of a key witness, Lori Mody, a wealthy business woman who wore a wire after telling the feds that she was being shaken down for cash.

Regardless whether he can prove that the witness is mentally unstable, he’s got an uphill fight in that area. The government has videotape of him taking money from Mody and audio tapes of him talking to her, sounding more like a mobster than a Congressman, acting paranoid about the FBI and trying to avoid the mere mention of the word “cash”.

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON — If a key government witness against former Rep. William Jefferson has “qualms” about producing mental health records and answering questions “it is the charges that must yield, ” not Jefferson’s “right to defend against them, ” his attorneys say.

Documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., where Jefferson is scheduled to go on trial May 26 on 16 corruption charges, also reveal previously unreleased transcripts of FBI recorded conversations with the witness, Virginia businesswoman Lori Mody. The tapes describe her as worried about a possible stalker and having “a lot of personal issues” at the time she and Jefferson worked together on a Nigerian telecommunications project.

In the papers, Jefferson’s attorneys said that at some of the meetings between Mody and the congressman “considerable amounts of wine was consumed.” They also said the Justice Department had revealed in a previously sealed document that Mody was undergoing something (the phrase is redacted by court order) that affected her ability “to concentrate.”

The attorneys said they are entitled to raise these issues to challenge the credibility of Mody, who they describe as the key witness against the nine-term New Orleans Democrat.

For Full Story

Read One of Jefferson’s Motions for Pyschiatric Records of Witness

Ex-Banker Indicted For Bribery in a Case With Links to Ex-Congresman William Jefferson

Ex-Rep. Jefferson

Ex-Rep. Jefferson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — An ex-official of the Export-Import Bank of the United States in Washington was indicted on charges of taking a $100,000 bribe from Nigerian businessmen in connection with a Kentucky high-tech firm linked to Rep. William Jefferson and his public corruption case.

According to an indictment unsealed Wednesday, Maureen Njideka Edu, 42, of Potomac, Md., worked as a business development specialist covering Africa and was a contact person for Congressman Jefferson.

The indictment, which refers to Jefferson as Representative A, said Jefferson introduced Edu to the Nigerian businessmen who were seeking financing to buy products and services from iGate Inc.,  a  Kentucky firm that offered broadband and cable tv technology . The owner of iGate, Vernon Jackson, pleaded guilty in 2006 to giving  bribes to Congressman Jefferson to land business in Africa.

According to the indictment, the Nigerian businessmen offered to pay Edu $173,500, with an initial installment of $100,000 to secure money from the bank.

On Feb. 27, 2004, a wire transfer was sent to Edu’s personal bank account in Washington, the indictment said. The business deal eventually fell through as a result of disputes between the Nigerian businessmen and the Kentucky firm.

The indictment does not accuse Jefferson of any crimes. Jefferson lost a bid for re-election last year and is awaiting a May trial on public corruption charges in Alexandria, Va.. Judy Smith, spokeswoman for Jefferson, declined to comment last night on the Edu indictment.

Read Indictment