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Jefferson Linked to Charges Against Brother

While Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) was not named in a federal indictment of three family members released Wednesday, the bribery charges against the Congressman are connected to the family fraud case by a family-run business that appears in both indictments.

That company is called B.E.P., and Wednesday’s indictment states that it was controlled by Mose Jefferson, the Congressman’s brother. According to the June 2007 indictment of Rep. Jefferson, the Congressman required that another company hire B.E.P. to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for his services helping that company gain oil drilling rights in Nigeria.

Rep. Jefferson has been charged by a U.S. attorney in Louisiana with requiring businessmen to hire his family members for consulting and other services in exchange for the Congressman’s aid in setting up business ventures in Africa. Rep. Jefferson has vigorously denied the charges, and that case is mired in a long series of pre-trial motions.

The indictment filed against the Congressman alleges that in exchange for helping a company secure oil drilling rights in Nigeria, he required that the company hire “Family Member 2,” who created a company called B.E.P. Rep. Jefferson then negotiated the compensation that would be paid to B.E.P., the indictment alleges, and included “Family Member 2” in negotiations over the drilling deal.

According to the indictment, “On or about Aug. 30, 2001, in Abuja, Nigeria, Defendant Jefferson caused an agreement to be executed between Company F and B.E.P. that provided B.E.P. the payment of a bonus of no less than $200,000 per marginal oil field and no less than $500,000 per offshore oilfield acquired and a one-sixth interest in all revenue obtained by Company F as a result of Company F’s development of any oil fields in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.”

Wednesday’s indictment alleges that B.E.P. was controlled by Mose Jefferson and was one of the companies that Mose Jefferson used to siphon money to nonprofit groups funded by state and federal grants.

The indictment alleges that in 2006, Mose Jefferson and other family members received just more than $36,000 from the state of Louisiana for work performed by nonprofit organizations that the family created and controlled. One of the family members then directed the accountant for the nonprofit to cut checks to other family members and family companies, including “approximately $2,600 to B.E.P.” The scheme is one of dozens spelled out in the indictment involving Mose Jefferson; the Congressman’s sister, Betty Jefferson; and her daughter Angela Coleman.

The indictment also alleges that Mose Jefferson used grant money from two family-controlled nonprofits to renovate a building in New Orleans owned by Southwind, one of his companies. He then transferred the building from Southwind to B.E.P.

B.E.P also appears in a separate indictment of Mose Jefferson issued in April, which alleges that he bribed a school board member to support adoption of a curriculum that he was selling.

According to that indictment, Mose Jefferson signed a sales agreement with JRL Enterprises, the company that produced the curriculum. After the school board in 2003 approved a $7 million contract to buy the curriculum and related materials, B.E.P received about $913,000 in commissions from JRL. Mose Jefferson then wrote checks from B.E.P. to Southwind and paid the school board member with checks from Southwind totaling about $100,000. A year later, Jefferson repeated the process when the school board approved another contract for the same curriculum.

The nonprofit organizations run by the Jefferson family did receive federal grant money, but it was not immediately clear whether Rep. Jefferson had any role in steering those grants to their nonprofits.

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