Federal officials indicted Rep. William Jefferson today, charging him with bribery, racketeering, money-laundering, and other misdeeds that could carry a sentence of up to 235 years. The Louisiana Democrat, the target of a lengthy investigation into business deals in Africa, has maintained his innocence, even after investigators found $90,000 in cash in his freezer in 2005.
Jefferson, whose district includes New Orleans, was re-elected last year despite the probe. The 94-page indictment outlines a case that reaches as far as the Nigerian presidential elections. Two associates—a former aide who admitted soliciting bribes and a telecommunications executive who gave kickbacks to secure deals—have struck plea bargains in exchange for testimony against Jefferson.