Rep. Jefferson indicted for bribery

Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., was indicted Monday on federal charges of racketeering, soliciting bribes and money-laundering in a long-running bribery investigation into business deals he tried to broker in Africa.

The indictment handed up in federal court in Alexandria., Va., Monday is 94 pages long and lists 16 alleged violations of federal law that could keep Jefferson in prison for up to 235 years, according to a Justice Department official who has seen the document.

Among the charges listed in the indictment, said the official, are racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money-laundering, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

Jefferson is accused of soliciting bribes for himself and his family, and also for bribing a Nigerian official.

Almost two years ago, in August 2005, investigators raided Jefferson's home in Louisiana and found $90,000 in cash stuffed into a box in his freezer.

Jefferson, 63, whose Louisiana district includes New Orleans, has said little about the case publicly but has maintained his innocence. He was re-elected last year despite the looming investigation.

Jefferson, in Louisiana on Monday, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Two of Jefferson's associates have already struck plea bargains with prosecutors and have been sentenced.

Brett Pfeffer, a former congressional aide, admitted soliciting bribes on Jefferson's behalf and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Another Jefferson associate, Louisville, Ky., telecommunications executive Vernon Jackson, pleaded guilty to paying between $400,000 and $1 million in bribes to Jefferson in exchange for his assistance securing business deals in Nigeria and other African nations. Jackson was sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

Both Pfeffer and Jackson agreed to cooperate in the case against Jefferson in exchanges for their pleas.

The impact of the case has stretched across continents and even roiled presidential politics in Nigeria. According to court records, Jefferson told associates that he needed cash to pay bribes to the country's vice president, Atiku Abubakar.

Abubakar denied the allegations, which figured prominently in that country's presidential elections in April. Abubakar ran for the presidency and finished third.

Court records indicate that Jefferson was videotape taking a $100,000 cash bribe from an FBI informant. Most of that money later turned up in a freezer in Jefferson's home.

In May 2006, the FBI raided Jefferson's congressional office, the first such raid on a sitting congressman's Capitol office. That move sparked a constitutional debate over whether the executive branch stepped over its boundary.

The legality of the raid is still being argued on appeal. House leaders objected to the search saying it was an unconstitutional intrusion on the lawmaking process. The FBI said the raid was necessary because Jefferson and his legal team had failed to respond to requests for documents.

Some but not all the documents seized in the raid have been turned over Justice Department prosecutors.


Associated Press writer Cain Burdeau in New Orleans contributed to this report.


  1. Carl Nemo

    If he’s found guilty and goes to prison, he’ll continue get a pension, if any is coming his way and he’s age eligible. It’s one of the best kept dirty secrets concerning our Congress. CNN has been keeping after this issue with their “Keeping Them Honest” series. As yet legislation for change concerning this issue isn’t going anywhere. The reason being is so many of them are “dirty” that they envision themselves in the slammer and surely don’t want their pensions confiscated. They are hedging the possibility that they too might be caught in time; i.e., maybe “all of them”…! :))

    I’ll bet he will beat the rap on the technicality that evidence was gathered in his Congressional office raid. It’s still being sorted out, but in the end his charges will be thrown out by the courts at some level even if it goes to the Supreme Court.

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. Access Of Evil

    It won’t get “tossed out” on some sort of “technicality.”

    FBI video and bribe cash in the freezer is hard evidence for a conviction. Search of his office will be ruled “probable cause” on account of “non compliance” in the court’s request for papers.

    That the courts have taken two years to put charges together tells you they’ve built a tight case.

    I’m going to have to research the part about felons getting Congressional Pensions.

    Disabled Veterans don’t get disability compensation while in prison.

  3. Carl Nemo

    Hi Access of Evil…

    Thanks for your comments to my post. Our justice system is so convoluted that many cases are thrown out on a technicalities, so although I’d like to see this guy gets justice, I’m not counting on it. The outcome of his conviction would set precedent that would effect future searches concerning Congressmen etc. Since our leadership including the high courts all work together as a team they just might surprise us by dunking the indictments, letting this fish get away for the “good” of Congress… :))

    Here’s the link concerning pensions. It’s a fact. A few years back these same slimeball Congressmen couldn’t wait to pass a law to see that convicted felons would forfeit Social Security while interred, which seems alright except in their case concerning their government pensions etc. Who knows maybe “they” get to keep their SS too…?!
    They are elitists and “we the people” are simply their prey.

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. Access Of Evil

    Originally posted: January 23, 2007
    Pensions to Congress’s convicts ‘indefensible’

    Posted by Christi Parsons at 4:02 pm CST

    More than a dozen former members of Congress have felony convictions on their records but are still receiving taxpayer-funded pensions, and House members think that’s a crime.

    On Tuesday, they voted unanimously to strip officials of their public retirement benefits upon conviction of official wrongdoing, including bribery and conspiring with foreign interests.

    At present, only a conviction of a crime like treason or espionage requires forfeiture of a congressional pension, which means that lawmakers with other serious offenses on their rap sheets continue to draw benefits.

    The Senate last week passed a similar measure disqualifying lawmakers convicted of official misconduct, bribery or related perjury, and the two chambers will now try to work out their differences on the matter.

  5. Carl Nemo

    Hi Axis of Evil et. al.,

    They covered this issue again just last week on CNN and the truth of the matter is these reforms have gone nowhere. They passed committee votes, but they aren’t moving to the floor. The Congressman in charge of moving the issue to the floor for a vote is just too busy with other matters. Cooper and another associate interviewed several legislators and they were simply evasive and non-committal concerning this legislation. I may be mistaken, but it’s my understanding that nothing has been done as yet. It’s the same way in the Senate.

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. KayInMaine

    …but I cracked up reading this article from MSNBC:

    Mr Jefferson’s indictment follows the jailing or federal investigation of a series of lawmakers, Capitol Hill staff and lobbyists over the last 18 months, including Jack Abramoff, the celebrated “K Street” lobbyist with close ties to Tom DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader who himself faces trial for alleged campaign finance corruption.

    Mr Abramoff was sentenced to almost six years in prison last year for defrauding of Indian tribes and corrupting public officials. Two Republican lawmakers, Bob Ney and Randy “Duke” Cunningham, were also jailed for corruption last year. A number of other congressmen, including Jerry Lewis, the former Republican chairman of the House appropriations committee, John Doolittle, a representative from California, and Rick Renzi of Arizona, are under federal investigation.

    Wow. Okay, we have Jefferson, but man!, the republicans have quite a bunch of criminals, huh? Wowser.

  7. SEAL

    Amazing how long it takes for our system to do the obvious. You have to wonder how the hell it was originally designed to allow those pension payments to continue for convicted felons. There can be no doubt that it must have been deliberately set up that way. What lawmakers are that stupid or “law blind” not to have thought of it?

    This case and the eventual “justice” that will emerge from it will be just another example that we have the best system of justice that money can buy.

    Here we have a 63 year old man who has been proffiting from his postition of power in government for many years to enjoy a grandiose lifestyle. Now, he has been caught dead in the act, on tape etc. But he is not in custody. He continues to enjoy his freedom because he is an “elite” criminal with financial resourse.

    The reality is that he will eventually have to go to prison. However, it could take years to make that happen while the ordinary citizen that commits a far less serious crime would be held in custody, proessed to conviction, and handed his punishment in short order.

    That is the real crime – the double standard of justice that has always existed in this country.

    Turn on any TV reality cop show and see the difference in how those caught committing simple crimes like robbery or even just driving without a license are arrested and treated compared to how this man, who has violated the public trust with multiple major crimes, has yet to be spoken harshly to much less “manhandled,” cuffed and stuffed, then frog marched into central booking where the “normal” criminal spends hours crammed in a vomit spewn and stinking holding pen with a bunch of very angry, volitle, unpredictable,and dangerous people. His justice will be swift and, guilty or not, he will be immediately punished to some extent simply by the standard process of law and order for the underclass.

    But Jefferson is a member of the elite upper class. His position and money will buy him his freedom to manuver the justice system for a long, long time before he has to “pay the piper” and that realistically describes what his punishment will be compared to the “slammer” prison conditions the underclass man will be subjected to. His primary crime is being poor while the only “real” crime of the elite is getting caught.

    YUP, we have the best sysem of justice money can buy.

  8. Doubtom

    I’ve spoken out on the “great system of justice” in this nation, which is nothing short of shameful! There is the rich man’s justice and the poor man’s justice. However, they don’t teach that in Law School or anywhere else for that matter.


    I am not a lower middle class person who is full of a diffuse anger and ready to attack whenever the media tells me to. This guy is probably guilty and he has probably betrayed his trust. But, in a Congress that is totally on the take, won’t he be used as the ritual scapegoat for the piles and piles of offal that seem to run the system? At least he has turned out to be an open crook, rather than a lawful one.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  10. Steve Horn

    Didn’t you know that the freezer is a lot better place to keep your money than a bank? So long as you pack it correctly it stays nice and fresh, along with the cod fish cakes and Eggo’s.

    And those weren’t bribes, those were consulting fees and gifts provided to business associates!

    It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

    Once we see who comes out in Jeffersons defense we’ll have a pretty fair idea as to how far and wide the tendrils of these dirty deeds have spread.



  11. Doubtom

    Yup Steve, gives a whole new slant to the term “cold cash” huh?

    Clue me in, when someone is caught red-handed like that and insists that he’s innocent, is it a case of sheer arrogance or total desperation?

  12. pondering_it_all

    Politicians all have to make compromises and deals that undermine their integrity to even get elected the first time they run for dog catcher or town council. Every day in office after that is just one such deal after another. Many can’t stomach it and get out after one term.

    Others somehow manage to survive without slipping all the way down that slope into outright criminal behavior. But for many, it seems that each new deal is just a bit easier to justify. That way leads to a prison cell.

    Bye, bye, Mr. Jefferson!