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Ex-Congressman Caught With $90K in Freezer Is Guilty

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 5, 2009 5:31 PM CDT
Ex-Congressman Caught With $90K in Freezer Is Guilty
Former Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson walks to federal court in Alexandria, Va.,, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009.    (Kevin Wolf)

(Newser) – A federal jury convicted a former Louisiana congressman today of taking bribes on 11 of 16 counts in a case in which agents found $90,000 in his freezer. Former Rep. William Jefferson, a Democrat who had represented parts of New Orleans, was accused of accepting more than $400,000 in bribes and seeking millions more in exchange for brokering business deals in Africa. He was convicted of charges including bribery, racketeering, and money laundering.

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Prosecutor Mark Lytle said Jefferson could face more than 20 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. He wanted the 62-year-old detained after the verdict, saying his ties to Africa made him a flight risk. However, Judge T.S. Ellis III allowed Jefferson to remain free on bond because of his local ties. The defense argued that Jefferson was acting as a private business consultant in brokering the deals and that his actions did not constitute bribery under federal law. (Read more William Jefferson stories.)

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