Rep. William “Cold Cash” Jefferson Convicted in Political Corruption Case
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
In one of the biggest and most controversial political corruption cases ever, Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson, a Democrat, is facing over 100 years in prison on multiple offenses. Rep. Jefferson garnered the nickname “Cold Cash” after investigators discovered he’d hidden thousands of dollars in the freezer compartment of his home refrigerator.
After hearing evidence for more than one month in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, a jury found Jefferson guilty on 11 criminal counts, including solicitation of bribes, wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering and conspiracy.
District Court Judge T.S. Ellis accepted the verdict and scheduled sentencing for October 30, 2009. Jefferson faces a maximum penalty of 150 years in prison and the jury will later address whether he will face forfeiture of up to $456,000 plus stock certificates.
While the case itself initially received national media attention, especially during the FBI’s search of Jefferson’s Washington, DC office, the outcome of this case of blatant corruption got short shrift from the news media.
“When there were accusations of racism (Jefferson is black) and inappropriate searches of a congressional office in the nation’s capital, reporters were all over this story. Now it seems they couldn’t care less since allegations of misconduct by the Bush Justice Department are moot,” said political strategist Mike Baker.
“One can only wonder how much media attention to Jefferson’s conviction there would have been had he been a conservative Republican, rather than a liberal Democrat who was part of the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus,” he said.
â€œWe have been reminded [with this case] that we are a nation of laws, and not men,â€ said Dana J. Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. â€œIt should be a clear signal that no public official â€“ and certainly not a U.S. Congressman â€“ can put their office up for sale and betray that office. It cannot be tolerated. It cannot just be another cost of doing business. And today, a jury of his peers held Congressman Jefferson accountable for his actions.â€
â€œTrust and integrity in public officials is at the heart of our democracy,â€ said Joseph Persichini Jr., Assistant Director of the Washington Field Office of the FBI. â€œWhat a better way to ensure those virtues, than to expose those who breach that trust. I am proud of the fantastic team of career prosecutors, agents and analysts who worked long hours to provide the facts and evidence which resulted in this just conclusion today.â€
According to evidence at trial, from August 2000 to August 2005 Jefferson used his position as an elected member of the US House of Representatives to corruptly seek, solicit and direct that things of value be paid to himself and his family members in exchange for his performance of official acts to advance the interests of people and businesses who offered him the bribes.
The things of value, according to evidence at trial, included hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes in the form of payments from monthly fees or retainers, consulting fees, percentage shares of revenues and profits, flat fees for items sold and stock ownership in the companies seeking his official assistance.
Evidence at trial showed that Jefferson performed a wide range of official acts in return for things of value, including leading official business delegations to Africa, corresponding with U.S. and foreign government officials, and utilizing congressional staff members to promote businesses and businesspersons. The business ventures that Jefferson sought to promote included telecommunications deals in Nigeria, Ghana and elsewhere; oil concessions in Equatorial Guinea; satellite transmission contracts in Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo; and development of different plants and facilities in Nigeria.
Others involved in this scheme included Vernon L. Jackson, a Louisville, Kentucky businessman who was sentenced to 87 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and the payment of bribes to a public official; and Brett M. Pfeffer, a former Jefferson congressional staff member who was sentenced to 96 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and aiding and abetting the solicitation of bribers by a member of Congress.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc.
To subscribe to Kouri’s newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write “Subcription” on the subject line.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.