Jefferson’s Lawyer Denies Any Laws Were Broken

Posted June 16, 2009 at 2:48pm

Defense attorney Robert Trout told a federal jury on Tuesday that they might “disapprove— of ex-Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-La.) business dealings but that the former lawmaker did not break any laws.

“William Jefferson did not take a bribe. He did not solicit a bribe. … He is not guilty of any of these charges,— Trout said.

Trout later added, “You will hear no evidence … for any earmark, for a tax break, for any appropriation, for any legislation whatsoever.—

Opening arguments began Tuesday in Jefferson’s corruption trial in the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Virginia.

In an hourlong presentation to the jury, Trout emphasized what he called Jefferson’s passion for his family, business and the continent of Africa. “He is someone who has entrepreneurial spirit,— Trout said.

Earlier Tuesday, federal prosecutors detailed their allegations that Jefferson accepted or tried to arrange millions of dollars worth of bribes for his family.

“This case is about corruption,— said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lytle, the lead lawyer for the prosecution. “It is a startling and often disheartening account of public corruption, often at the highest levels of our government.—

During a presentation that lasted more than an hour, Lytle repeatedly referenced the $90,000 in cash found in Jefferson’s home freezer during an August 2005 raid. At one point, he described it as “perhaps the most disturbing evidence— against Jefferson in the 16-count indictment.