Story Summary

Rep. William Jefferson

Jefferson was indicted on bribery charges after agents found $90,000 in his freezer. On November 13, 2009, Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison, the longest sentence ever handed down to a congressman for bribery or any other crime. He began serving that sentence in May of 2012 at a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Beaumont, Texas.

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Say these names out loud: Dan Rostenkowski, Jim Wright, James Trafacant and NOLA’s homegrown corruptocrat  William Jefferson. All these men had used the revolving door at the front entrance to the Congress as the entry point to lives of “public service” and all of them spent part of those lives from behind another revolving door, made of thick metal bars. Jefferson will spend the next 13 years behind a federal iron curtain for his crime of bribery1. What is really amazing about that is how so few of his former colleagues are ever even indicted for the crimes they commit in broad daylight, every day of the week3.

Another amazing fact in the sad saga of Jefferson is the paltry amount he accepted in return for his “services”- $100,0004. Newt Gingrich famously accepted almost $2 million for his efforts at legal bribery, some call it lobbying2, after he left the House of Representin’ and that was just for ONE john, I mean client, Freddie Mac3.

Former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Tom Daschle and his wife are millionaires ten times over5 thanks to their post-legislative bribery… I mean lobbying activities. This is nice work if you can find it and find it you can if you can just win that one seat inside our imperial legislature in DC.

Former – almost – Speaker of the House and New Orleanian Bob Livingston is also raking in millions turning over the pages of legislative deals for clients on K street instead of bedsheets for a mistress but don’t misunderstand, there is still an awful lot of screwing going here.

Our Federal overlords will legally confiscate from you and me, then legally redistribute over $2.5 TRILLION this year with men like Daschle and Livingston acting as legal middlemen. What a pity for Mrs. William Jefferson, his five daughters and the city he once represented that Jefferson never pursued a life of legalized crime.

1 http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/11/jefferson_waits_supreme_court.html

2 http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/11/21/gingrich-lobbyist/

3 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57333818-503544/newt-gingrich-not-technically-a-lobbyist-but../ – According to the watchdog group Public Citizen, between 1998 and 2006, 43 percent of all members of Congress took lobbying jobs after leaving Congress, landing positions with an average annual salary of $2 million.

4 http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/prosecutor_says_former_rep_wil.html

5 http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15799.html

6 http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/lobby00/former.php – For example, in his first year as a registered lobbyist, former Appropriations Committee Chairman and almost-Speaker of the House Bob Livingston (R-La.) was able to collect over a million dollars in lobbying fees.

News with a Twist
11/26/12

Bill Jefferson is exactly where he belongs

Its kinda nice to know I wont have to waste any more time here discussing convicted felon Bill Jefferson.  The ex-congressman has exhausted all appeals through none other than the U.S. Supreme Court, and will stay in federal jail until August of 2023 and that’s a very good thing for all citizens of greater New Orleans.

Bill Jefferson is a cancer of the worst kind.  A terminal growth that will kill you if you’re not careful. For nearly 40 years of public life, Bill Jefferson’s legacy is that he stole from the very people he was supposed to represent.  And usually it was very poor, disenfranchised black folks of New Orleans, the ones that truly needed his help the most.

Jefferson and his family of crooks systematically pillaged the public coffers for personal gain and they did this for decades.  The Harvard educated lawyer used his brains and power to become a thief of the people’s money.  And now he’s spending his days in a federal pen in Beaumont, Texas.

Don’t feel sorry for Bill Jefferson, because I can promise you he never felt sorry for you, ever.  He was supposed to help all of us not himself and his family. He was supposed to sacrifice for us not profit from us.

Bill Jefferson is exactly where he belongs and the Supreme Court was wise to not grant him a retrial.  It’s called justice.

News with a Twist
07/27/11

End of the Jefferson era

When former State Representative and City Council President Renee Gill Pratt was found guilty for conspiring to loot Central City Charities this week, it marked the end of an era.  Not so much the Gill Pratt era, but the era of Bill Jefferson and his Progressive Democrats.

Jefferson and his clan ruled New Orleans elections for decades.  His political machine almost guaranteed who would be elected or reelected.

Then the trouble started for Jefferson and his family.  First the ex-Congressman was found guilty of 11 bribery related charges.  A few short months later, Bill’s older brother Mose Jefferson was convicted of bribery.  Next up were sisters Brenda Foster and then, 4th district assessor Betty Jefferson.  Those two, along with Jefferson’s niece Angela Coleman, were guilty of looting charities.  And finally, brother Mose longtime girlfriend, Gill Pratt.

With his final appeal almost exhausted, Bill Jefferson, the patriarch of the crime family, should be in a federal jail cell  before the year is out.

Let’s recap.  Bill Jefferson-convicted felon.  His brother Mose Jefferson- convicted felon.  His 2 sisters, Brenda and Betty-convicted felons.  His niece Angela Coleman-convicted felon.  And finally his brother’s girlfriend, Gill Pratt-convicted felon.

That’s a lot of convicted felons!

Thank goodness for extremely effective U.S. Attn Jim Letton and his Asst U.S. attn’s Daniel Friel, Fred Harper, and Brian Marcel.  They did the heavy lifting by putting away the major players in the Jefferson family criminal enterprise.

It’s the end of an era.  The Bill Jefferson era.  And that’s very good news for New Orleans.

News with a Twist
02/11/11

The Jefferson Clan

The federal trial continues for Renee Gill-Pratt, a former New Orleans City Council President, who allegedly stole federal and state funds appropriated for sham non-profits. Meanwhile, the bogus charities were run by former U.S. Congressman Bill Jefferson’s family: Mose & Betty.

While he ran things from D.C., Bill’s sister Betty was a New Orleans city assessor.  His brother Mose, a convicted felon – not to be confused with Bill’s other convicted felon brother Archie – was dating the aforementioned New Orleans city council president, Renee Gill-Pratt. Mose was also dating then Orleans Parish School Board president Ellenese Brooks-Sims.  One of Bill’s daughter’s was a state Representative in Baton Rouge.  I’m not making this up!!!

They had it all covered: D.C., Baton Rouge, the city council, the school board, even the assessors office.

The Jefferson clan secured the funds. Then steered them toward the fake non profits. Those so-called charities were originally set up to help pregnant black teens and train young black males for the work force.  Essentially poor, underprivileged black kids that needed the help the most!   Other money stolen was for black elderly folks on limited incomes.  Again, the poor and needy.

David Duke would have loved this.  Stealing money set aside for underprivileged black youths and elderly while living the life of luxury.  Screwing over blacks and profiting from it too?!?  They call that lagniappe in Duke’s zany world.  Getting your cake and eating too.

David Duke was a nightmare.  But Bill Jefferson was the real thing.  And he did what David Duke could only dream of.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a prison term of at least 27 years for a former Louisiana congressman convicted of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

William Jefferson, a Democrat who represented parts of New Orleans, was convicted of bribery, racketeering and other counts. The case made headlines when authorities found $90,000 cash hidden in his freezer.

He will be sentenced on Friday. Prosecutors are urging the judge to stick to federal sentencing guidelines, which call for a term of 27 to 33 years. Such a term would be significantly longer than those received by other congressman in recent scandals.

The government also wants Jefferson to begin serving his sentence immediately after Friday’s hearing. He is currently free on bond.

A federal jury has ruled that a former Louisiana congressman must forfeit roughly $470,000 in bribery receipts.

The ruling comes a day after Democrat William Jefferson was convicted on 11 counts, including bribery, for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa.

The jury returned Thursday to consider the technical question of whether he would be required to forfeit any funds he received.

Jefferson will be sentenced Oct. 30. Prosecutors say federal sentencing guidelines could call for more than 20 years in prison.

It will also be up to a judge to impose any financial penalties.

Jefferson represented parts of New Orleans for almost 20 years.

His conviction came a little more than four years after the FBI found $90,000 cash hidden in the freezer of his Washington home.

The jury that rendered a verdict for former Congressman William Jefferson will return to court today after finding him guilty on 11 of 16 charges.

William Jefferson, a Democrat who represented parts of New Orleans for almost 20 years, was convicted Wednesday on 11 corruption counts including money laundering after a two-month trial in Virginia that included evidence of $90,000 in cash from an FBI sting found stashed in the freezer of Jefferson’s home.

Jefferson was stoic as the verdict was read. Asked how he was doing, he said, “I’m holding up.” His attorney said he plans an appeal.

Prosecutors pursued an aggressive indictment, charging Jefferson on 16 counts that were far more serious than those levied against Stevens, who was convicted in October of lying on Senate forms about home renovations and gifts he received from wealthy friends.

Five months later, the Justice Department asked an angry judge to drop all charges against the longtime senator, admitting that prosecutors withheld important evidence from the defense.

In Jefferson’s case, the government alleged that he took more than $400,000 in bribes and sought millions more in exchange for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa. Defense lawyers argued that federal bribery laws are narrowly written and were never intended to ensnare the conduct alleged against Jefferson, and some legal experts agreed. The defense said Jefferson was acting as a private business consultant in brokering the deals.

Interestingly, the charge most closely associated with the most famous evidence – the freezer money wrapped in foil and hidden in boxes of frozen pie crust – was one of five counts on which Jefferson was acquitted.

Still, the guilty verdicts represent a clear victory for the Justice Department, who said Jefferson hid the bribes by funneling money disguised as consulting fees through sham companies controlled by his wife and brother.

U.S. Attorney Dana Boente commented afterward that “no person, not even a congressman, is above the law. Ninety-thousand dollars in a freezer is not a gray area. It’s a violation.”

And U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis rejected the defense’s efforts to get the case tossed out.

The charges Jefferson originally faced could have landed him in jail for 235 years. Prosecutor Mark Lytle said Jefferson could be sentenced on Oct. 30 to more than 20 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. The 62-year-old technically faces up to 150 years.

Jefferson rose from the poverty of the Louisiana Delta parishes to prominence as a street-savvy political tactician.

Known for a sharp ability to work the vote, he held his Congressional seat for nearly two decades with strong backing of black voters in New Orleans, where neighborhood political organizations were the backbone of politics, especially before

Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Even after was accused of taking bribes, those well-cultivated voters still re-elected him in 2006.

Some remain on his side.

The Rev. Aubrey Wallace, a Baptist church assistant pastor in suburban Jefferson Parish, said the verdict doesn’t erode his belief in the ex-Congressman’s innocence or his view that the prosecution was politically motivated.

“We’re going to rally around him,” he said. “I’ll be a supporter until the last breath in my mouth.”

Like Stevens, who lost the seat he held for 40 years because of his case, the bribery scandal cost Jefferson his spot.

Louisiana’s first African-American Congressman since Reconstruction lost in December to Republican attorney Anh “Joseph” Cao, a year after a grand jury indicted him.

“This is a difficult day for the people of New Orleans and Louisiana, but now we can turn the page on a negative past to focus on a positive future. My thoughts and prayers go out to Mr.Jefferson and his family during this time,” Cao said Wednesday.

Had Jefferson been acquitted, he might have considered a run for his former congressional seat.

Pollster Silas Lee, who has studied black politics in New Orleans for many years, thinks Jefferson’s loss, coupled with the convictions, have ended his political career.

“Once he lost, it automatically moved the city on, a changing of the guard,” said Lee.

Jefferson had been under investigation since March 2005, and in August that year, FBI agents searched his Washington home and found the freezer stash. Prosecutors said he had planned to use the money to pay a bribe to the then-vice president of Nigeria to secure a multimillion dollar telecommunications deal there, an accusation Jefferson denied.

The money ended up there after a disgruntled businesswoman, Lori Mody, agreed to wear a wire after telling the FBI she had been cheated out of $3.5 million in deals brokered by Jefferson. The jury saw videotape of Mody handing over a suitcase filled with $100,000 cash outside an Arlington hotel. Most of that money was recovered in the freezer.

Jefferson will remain free on bond until sentencing. Jurors must return to the courthouse Thursday to consider whether Jefferson has to forfeit more than $450,000 in alleged bribe receipts now that he has been convicted.

Daniel Ritter, a Gretna, La., business owner, said he thinks jurors got it right.

“I don’t know how he was going to deny $90,000 in his freezer,” he said. “You can’t explain that. I think there would have been mass hysteria if he was not found guilty.”

A jury in Alexandria, Virginia will soon be deliberating the fate of former Congressman William Jefferson.

Wednesday, closing arguments wrapped up in the case. Prosecutors started off the day depicting Jefferson as a politician just looking for a payday. They describe the $90,000 in cash found in his freezer as a bribe intended for the vice president of Nigeria.

After the prosecution, the defense had their turn for closing arguments, which lasted about two hours, and then the prosecution followed up with a 30 minute rebuttal.

Thursday morning, the judge should begin reading instructions to the jury before they deliberate. ABC 26 legal analyst Tim Meche says it could be a lengthy process, up to two hours, based on how many charges Jefferson is facing.

Another unexpected twist in this case, according to Meche, is the fact that only two witnesses testified for the defense throughout the whole trial. Jefferson himself never testified, Meche says this is rare for a white collar trial. “Most observers thought, including myself, that he would testify in this trial. Perhaps something happened during the trial that the defense wasn’t expecting, maybe he never planned to testify, we’ll probably never know” Meche says.

Jefferson faces 16 different charges. It will take a unanimous vote by jurors to convict him on each count.

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