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Corruption Chronicles

Rep. Jefferson Uses Desperate Defense Tactics

The Louisiana congressman who hid a $90,000 cash bribe in his freezer 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.

It’s not the first time that Representative William Jefferson, a nine-term Democrat from New Orleans, has played the race card as a desperate defense in the scandal. Shortly after a scathing 94-page federal indictment charged Jefferson with bribery, racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice, he and his supporters denounced the case as the work of a Republican White House and Justice Department scheming to target black Democratic leaders.

But overwhelming evidence is stacked against Jefferson, who over the years abused his official position to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes for himself and his family. The corrupt lawmaker used his influence on a powerful House Africa Trade Caucus to illegally perform official acts for nearly a dozen companies in return for 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.

Jefferson says 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. A judge rejected his absurd argument, however, ruling in favor of prosecutors who maintain that Virginia is an appropriate venue because that is where Jefferson was actually caught accepting bribes.


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