Jury selection began today in the trial of former Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The Democrat is charged with taking bribes and using his office to set up business deals in Africa. “It is good to have my family with me,” he said as he arrived at the courthouse in Virginia. In 2005, federal investigators traced $90,000 from an informant to Jefferson’s freezer.
Jefferson, 62, could face 20 years in prison. A loss would be a “huge blow” to the Justice Department, an ethics watchdog tells USA Today. “You’re just not going to get anything better than a congressman with $90,000 in his freezer.” Jefferson’s defense team says he was acting as a private citizen, and will note a search of his Washington offices deemed unconstitutional by another court.