Prosecutors Allege Jefferson Involved With Millions of Dollars in Bribes

Posted June 16, 2009 at 11:18am

Federal prosecutors presented their opening arguments in the criminal trial of former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) on Tuesday morning, giving a detailed account of the government’s 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 his more than hourlong presentation, 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.Federal prosecutors allege that Jefferson required companies seeking his official assistance as a Member of Congress to hire “bogus companies— that were “nominally owned and operated by his family— as a cover for the bribes.Jefferson’s defense team is scheduled to present opening arguments Tuesday afternoon.Jefferson, who has repeatedly declared his innocence, attended Tuesday’s session with his wife and daughters.