Former Congressman William Jefferson Convicted of Corruption
Former Democrat Congressman William Jefferson was convicted August 5, 2009, for charges of bribery and corruption, on 11 out of 16 counts.
Jefferson was accused of abusing his position while representing various parts of New Orleans, accepting over $400,000 in bribes while attempting to obtain millions more, in exchange for brokering business for company ventures in Africa and promoting them in an official capacity without revealing his own stake.
The investigation began in March 2005, and is known most memorably for the August 2005 incident in which FBI agents discovered $90,000 cash idden in a freezer in Jefferson's home. The money was believed to be intended bribery money for Nigerian vice president Atiku Abukaer, who has denied any involvement.
...from 2000 to 2005, Mr. Jefferson sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a dozen companies involved in oil, communications, sugar and other businesses, often for projects in Africa.
In return, prosecutors said, the Mr. Jefferson used his position as a member of the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee to promote the companies’ ventures without disclosing his own financial stakes in the deals.
Mr. Jefferson led official delegations to Africa, wrote letters to American and foreign officials and had members of his staff promote ventures in Nigeria, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea in which he had a financial interest.
The Jefferson investigation also broke ground in marking the first time the office of a Congressman was searched, the raid leading to a constitutional battle over the issue of Congressional independence.