JANUARY 18, 2008
The Louisiana congressman charged with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes has asked a judge to suppress incriminating testimony he made to the FBI because he was not advised by agents of his right to remain silent and right to speak with an attorney.
The federal agents did not advise Democrat Representative William Jefferson of those rights, which are mandatory during an arrest, because the exchange took place during a voluntary interview with the lawmaker and no arrest was ever made.
But in his latest desperate effort to defend his deplorable actions over the years, Jefferson argued in court this week that the circumstances of the FBI interview were so hostile that he reasonably assumed he was under arrest even though he clearly wasn’t. Federal prosecutors say the interview was friendly and professional and that Jefferson’s statements were voluntary and should be allowed at trial.
Incredibly, Jefferson possesses a law degree from a prestigious Ivy League university (Harvard) yet he voluntarily spoke to FBI agents for hours and must have known there was no actual arrest since he was not forcibly detained, handcuffed, or taken into custody.
The congressman was indicted last year for soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes for himself and his family. The corrupt lawmaker used his influence on a powerful House Africa Caucus to illegally perform official acts for nearly a dozen companies in return for hefty bribes.
A years-long federal investigation culminated with the FBI actually video taping the disgraced congressman accepting a $100,000 cash bribe in northern Virginia. Federal agents subsequently raided Jefferson’s Washington D.C. home and found $90,000 of the money in his freezer, wrapped in aluminum foil and separated into $10,000 increments.
A few months ago Jefferson asked a judge to move his corruption trial from the jurisdiction where he was caught taking money on video because there aren’t enough blacks for the jury pool. He actually argued in court that the government unfairly brought charges against him in suburban Alexandria Virginia because federal prosecutors wanted a venue where fewer blacks are in the jury pool.
As for the $90,000 found in his freezer, the congressman told the judge at this week’s pre-trial hearing that he wasn’t going to go into it, but there’s “an explanation for that.” It promises to no doubt be a captivating story.
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