White-Collar Crime

Ex-US Rep. Jefferson Convicted; Harvard Law Grad Could Face Long Jail Term

Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson was convicted today of 11 of the 16 counts he faced in a federal corruption case.

The Louisiana Democrat, who served 18 years in Congress until he was defeated in 2008, was accused by prosecutors during a six-week trial of seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes concerning business ventures, many of them in Africa, reports the New York Times. The jury in the Alexandria, Va., case deliberated five days before reaching a verdict.

The 62-year-old Jefferson did not testify in his own defense. His counsel contended that he acted as a private businessman in the transactions at issue, which did not constitute “official acts.”

Prosecutors asked that Jefferson now be jailed as a flight risk, but U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III allowed him to remain free pending his Oct. 30 sentencing, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Ellis earlier imposed stiff sentences on lesser figures in the corruption case, the newspaper reports, noting that the former Congressman faces substantial prison time if his conviction is upheld in the appeal he presumably may file. Prosecutors had said Jefferson could be sentenced to as much 235 years in prison if he was convicted on all 16 counts; the newspaper doesn’t provide a revised figure reducing the maximum based on his acquittal on five counts.

He was convicted of four counts of bribery, four counts of racketeering and three counts of wire fraud, reports CNN. The five counts on which he was acquitted included wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer Who Fled Saigon at Age 8 Defeats Indicted US Rep”

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court Denies Review in Congressional Search Case”

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