WASHINGTON — Disgraced ex-Congressman Bill Jefferson, whose downfall more than a decade ago came after federal agents found $90,000 in cash stashed in his freezer, wouldn't serve any additional prison time under a deal struck with federal prosecutors.
The agreement, filed in a Virginia federal court Wednesday evening, would clear up the criminal case against the former nine-term New Orleans Democratic congressman.
Former nine-term U.S. Rep. William Jefferson is going free, at least for now, a federal judge has ruled.
Jefferson was convicted in 2009 on 11 federal corruption charges stemming from an FBI investigation that uncovered evidence the congressman took roughly $400,000 in bribes in exchange for help arranging business deals in Africa.
But U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who originally sentenced Jefferson to 13 years in federal prison, tossed seven of those counts in early October in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that required federal prosecutors to do more to prove public officials had abused their positions in corruption cases. An eighth count had earlier been overturned by a federal appeals court.
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for disgraced former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson are nearing a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid a new trial on fe…
Ellis freed Jefferson, 70, from prison in October after dismissing parts of the conviction. But the severity of the remaining three counts against Jefferson meant the disgraced former lawmaker still faced the possibility of additional prison time. And prosecutors had indicated in previous court filings they were considering re-trying Jefferson on the remaining charges.
Ellis would need to sign off on the deal and is expected to consider it at a resentencing hearing for Jefferson scheduled for Friday morning at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington.
Under the proposed deal, two of Jefferson's federal convictions — both for conspiracy — would remain standing. But the other charges Ellis didn't throw out, including a conviction under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, would be dropped.
The government seized a total of $189,215.42 from a handful of bank accounts belonging to Jefferson, according to court documents. The judge had originally ordered Jefferson to pay a total of $470,653.47 as part of his sentence.
Under the proposed deal, federal prosecutors would keep the money already seized but write off the rest.
Raids by FBI agents on Jefferson's Washington, D.C., home and congressional offices in 2005 propelled the New Orleans Democrat onto front pages across the country. Prosecutors later revealed undercover video of Jefferson accepting $100,000 in cash in a suburban D.C. hotel room.
Agents later found all but $10,000 of those bills in Jefferson's freezer, wrapped in tin foil and hidden inside packages of frozen food, including a box of Pillsbury pie crusts.
The searches of Jefferson's Capitol Hill offices prompted a showdown between congressional leaders and then-FBI Director Robert Mueller over the extent of privileges given to lawmakers.
Federal prosecutors working for U.S. Attorney Dana Boente also agreed to recommend Ellis resentence Jefferson to the five years already served in prison.
Jefferson's attorneys will also argue against additional supervised probation, according to the agreement, something federal prosecutors will neither oppose nor endorse.