30 years sought for William Jefferson
Found guilty of bribery, fraud, money laundering, and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Representative William Jefferson, faces 30 years in the big house if federal prosecutors have their way.
Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, is 66 years old. A 30 year term could prove to be a life sentence for his crimes.
Jefferson made the news in August of 2005 when $90,000.00 in cold cash was found stashed in a freezer at his home.
Investigators said at that time that the money was part of a $100,000 payment that had been delivered by an informant in the bribery probe.
Jefferson an eight-term congressman, whose district included New Orleans, attempted to use his position as a United States Congressman to promote business ventures in Nigeria, Ghana and other African nations.
Federal prosecutors are seeking the harshest prison sentence ever handed out to a member of Congress for former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), arguing that his “stunning betrayal of public trust” warrants what could be a life sentence for the long-time lawmaker.
The Justice Department is asking a federal judge in Alexandria, Va, to lock up Jefferson, 62, for up to 33 years, according to documents filed by prosecutors on Friday.
Jefferson was convicted in August on federal charges of bribery, fraud, money laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the first sitting member of Congress to be hit with that allegation. Jefferson tried to bribe the Nigerian vice president on a telecom contract for a company that the congressman secretly had a stake in. About $90,000 from that bribe was later found in Jefferson’s freezer when federal agents raided his home.
“The defendant betrayed the public’s trust time after time by using his congressional office as a criminal enterprise to a further a pattern of racketeering acts of corruption and self-enrichment,” federal prosecutors wrote. “His crimes included no fewer than eleven distinct bribe schemes as well as a conspiracy involving an extraordinary and historically unprecedented to agreement to bribe the the-sitting Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.”
According to DOJ estimate, these bribery schemes – which involved companies in west Africa – could have netted Jefferson and his family “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Jefferson got $478,000 in bribe money, including $367,500 from Kentucky businessman Vernon Jackson. Jackson himself received a 87-month sentence, or more than seven years.