Court Rejects Jefferson Motion to Dismiss RICO Charges

Posted August 14, 2008 at 4:02pm

A federal court in Virginia has rejected a motion from Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) to dismiss the racketeering charges against him.

Jefferson is set to stand trial in December for allegedly using his office to help businessmen establish their companies in Africa in exchange for payments to Jefferson’s family.

He claimed that the indictment against him did not meet the necessary elements for claims of bribery and honest services wire fraud offenses.

Jefferson’s motion argues that the racketeering charges in the indictment should be dismissed “for failure to state an offense and because the statute is unconstitutionally vague.”

The order denying Jefferson’s request asserts that the charge does in fact allege two instances of racketeering in accordance with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and that it satisfactorily alleges the bribery and wire fraud offenses.

Judge T. S. Ellis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia rejected Jefferson’s reasoning on why he, his staff members and his Congressional offices could not be considered a RICO enterprise. The order points out that the Congressman himself acknowledged that his arguments had been “compellingly rejected by other courts.”

Jefferson was indicted in June 2007, and has filed several motions to dismiss the RICO counts, bribery and fraud charges being brought against him.