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Affidavit: $90,000 found in congressman's freezer« Thread Started on May 22, 2006, 7:57am » --------------------------------------------------------------------------------Affidavit: $90,000 found in congressman's freezerFBI wraps up search of Jefferson's office in bribery probeMonday, May 22, 2006 Posted: 0143 GMT (0943 HKT) read source: ... WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal agents searched the Capitol Hill office of a Louisiana congressman under investigation on bribery charges Sunday, while newly released court papers said agents found $90,000 in cash last year in his Washington home.In a 95-page affidavit used to obtain a warrant for the office search, investigators stated that an August 2005 search of Democratic Rep. William Jefferson's home turned up the cash sum in a freezer.The money was divided among various frozen food containers, according to the heavily redacted affidavit. Agents told a judge the money was part of a $100,000 payment that had been delivered by an informant in the bribery probe, which already has led to guilty pleas by a Kentucky businessman and a former Jefferson aide.The Justice Department has been investigating Jefferson's relationship to telecommunications deals in Africa and elsewhere, and the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation of him last week. The eight-term congressman, whose district includes New Orleans and some of its suburbs, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to remain in office to battle any criminal charges he may face.But the affidavit states that investigators have collected evidence linking Jefferson to at least seven other cases in which he "sought things of value in return for his performance of official acts."Robert Trout, the congressman's lawyer, decried the release of the affidavit. In a statement issued Sunday night, he said it served "no legitimate investigative purpose.""This disclosure by the prosecutors is part of a public relations agenda and an obvious attempt to embarrass Congressman Jefferson," Trout said. "The affidavit itself is just one side of the story, which has not been tested in court."He said Jefferson would respond "at the appropriate time" if charged with any wrongdoing.FBI agents searched Jefferson's office in the Rayburn House Office Building from Saturday evening to early Sunday afternoon, bureau spokeswoman Debra Weierman said. One government official told CNN the search marked the first time FBI agents have searched a lawmaker's Capitol Hill office.Weierman would not comment on what agents removed from Jefferson's office. But in the papers released Sunday, investigators stated they were searching for faxes, notes, telephone records and other forms of communication, as well as ledgers and computer files related to meetings and travel.In an earlier statement, Trout called the search of Jefferson's office "outrageous" and said it was not necessary."There were no exigent circumstances necessitating this action. The government knew that the documents were being appropriately preserved while proper procedures were being followed. We are dismayed by this action -- the documents weren't going anywhere and the prosecutors knew it," he said.However, a redacted copy of the search warrant and affidavit stated that federal investigators were unable to obtain the records relevant to the investigation inside Jefferson's office and, "left with no other method," proceeded with the search. A government official close to the investigation told CNN the search was executed over the weekend when few people are on Capitol Hill because they believed that time would "be appropriate."Agents had previously searched Jefferson's home in New Orleans. The cash found in his Washington residence was part of a $100,000 payment delivered by a cooperating witness, according to the affidavit, which said the delivery was videotaped by the FBI.The FBI began investigating Jefferson in March 2005 stemming from accusations made by the witness, a Virginia resident who owns an investment firm. He told the FBI that he was "a victim of a fraud and bribery scheme" involving Jefferson; Vernon Jackson, CEO of the Louisville, Kentucky-based company iGate; and Brett Pfeffer, the president of the investment firm owned by the unnamed witness and a former Jefferson aide.According to the affidavit, Jefferson had asked the witness for a percentage ownership interest in his Nigerian broadband company in exchange for the congressman "using his official acts to support the the Nigerian business venture."Guilty pleasJackson pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this month to bribing the congressman with more than $400,000 in payments, company stock and a share of the profits in order to promote iGate's high-tech business ventures in Africa. (Full story)Pfeffer, of Herndon, Virginia, pleaded guilty in January to aiding and abetting bribery of a public official. Both have agreed to cooperate with authorities as part of their plea agreements.The affidavit states Jefferson "attempted to use his position as a United States Congressman" to promote other iGate business ventures in Nigeria, Ghana and possibly other African nations."In exchange for his official acts supporting the proposed business ventures," the affidavit said, Jefferson has received a 30 percent equity stake in the witness' Nigerian company and more than $400,000 in payments from iGate.The 30 percent equity, in the form of stocks, was placed in the name of a Nigerian limited liability corporation held by the congressman's children, the affidavit said.The cloud over Jefferson comes as Democratic leaders have been attacking what they call a "culture of corruption" surrounding the Republican leadership in Congress. With midterm elections in November, Democrats are trying to highlight GOP ties to the influence-peddling investigation surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in a Texas court, and last year's guilty plea of California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, now serving an eight-year stretch for taking bribes from defense contractors.In a news conference last week, Jefferson said he was innocent and that he would remain in office while he fights any charges. (Full story)"I wish to say emphatically that in all of my actions that are here under scrutiny, that I have never intended to dishonor my office, or you, the public, and I certainly did not sell my office," Jefferson told reporters.Link to Post - Back to Top botAdministratormember is offline Joined: Nov 2004Posts: 4,324Re: Affidavit: $90,000 found in congressman's free« Reply #1 on May 22, 2006, 8:01am » --------------------------------------------------------------------------------congressman videotaped accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant All 21 messages in topic - view as tree From: swampmidget - view profile Date: Mon, May 22 2006 1:44 am Email: "swampmidget" <> Groups: alt.politics, alt.impeach.bush, alt.politics.bush,, alt.politics.democrats Not yet ratedRating: show options Reply | Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show original | Report Abuse | Find messages by this author FBI says it recorded lawmaker taking cash By Seattle Times news services ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A congressman under investigation for bribery was caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer. At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret what the government contends was his corrupt role in getting his children a cut of a communications company's deal for work in Africa. As Jefferson and the informant passed notes about what percentage the lawmaker's family might receive, the congressman "began laughing and said, 'All these damn notes we're writing to each other as if we're talking, as if the FBI is watching,' " according to the affidavit. Jefferson, who represents New Orleans and is also the subject of a House ethics-committee probe, has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing. "As I have previously stated, I have never, over all the years of my public service, accepted payment from anyone for the performance of any act or duty for which I have been elected," he said this month. His press secretary, Melanie Roussell, declined to comment Sunday. As for the $100,000, the government says Jefferson got the money in a leather briefcase July 30 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Va. The plan was for the lawmaker to use the cash to bribe a high-ranking Nigerian official - the name is blacked out in the court document - to ensure the success of a business deal in that country, the affidavit said. All but $10,000 was recovered on Aug. 3 when the FBI searched Jefferson's home in Washington. The money was stuffed in his freezer, wrapped in $10,000 packs and concealed in food containers and aluminum foil. Two of Jefferson's associates have pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges in federal court in Alexandria. One, businessman Vernon Jackson of Louisville, Ky., admitted paying more than $400,000 in bribes to the lawmaker in exchange for his help securing business deals for Jackson's telecommunications company, iGate Inc., in Nigeria and other African countries. The new details about the case emerged after federal agents searched Jefferson's congressional office on Capitol Hill. About 15 FBI agents entered Jefferson's office in the Rayburn House Office Building about 7:15 p.m. Saturday night and left about 1 p.m. Sunday. Authorities said it was the first time the FBI had raided a sitting congressman's office. The search was intended to include all areas of Jefferson's office, and could entail computer hardware and software, as well as other electronics and closed or locked containers, according to the affidavit. "There is probable cause to believe" that Jefferson's office "contains property constituting evidence of the commission [of] bribery of a public official," and wire fraud, it said. Jefferson's lawyer, Robert Trout, said there was no immediate reason for the raid. "The government knew that the documents were being appropriately preserved while proper procedures were being followed," he said. The FBI declined to comment, as did Ken Melson, the first assistant U.S. attorney in Alexandria. The nearly 100-page affidavit for a search warrant, made public Sunday with large portions blacked out, spells out much of the evidence so far as federal investigators move closer to deciding whether to seek Jefferson's indictment. The document includes excerpts of conversations between Jefferson and Lori Mody, a business executive from northern Virginia. She agreed to wear a wire after she approached the FBI with complaints that Jefferson and an associate had ripped her off in a business deal. Trout contended that the prosecutors' disclosure was "part of a public-relations agenda and an attempt to embarrass Congressman Jefferson." "The affidavit itself is just one side of the story which has not been tested in court," he said in a statement. The affidavit says Jefferson was caught on videotape at the Ritz-Carlton as he takes a reddish-brown briefcase from the trunk of Mody's car, slips it into a cloth bag, puts the bag into his 1990 Lincoln Town Car and drives away. The $100 bills in the suitcase had the same serial numbers as those found in Jefferson's freezer. While the name of the intended recipient of the $100,000 is blacked out, other details in the affidavit indicate he is Abubakar Atiku, Nigeria's vice president. He owns a home in Potomac, Md., that authorities have searched as part of the Jefferson investigation. Jefferson assured Mody in their coded conversations that he paid the money to the Nigerian official, even though the money was still in Jefferson's possession when agents searched his home Aug. 3. On Aug. 1, two days after Jefferson took the $100,000, Mody called Jefferson to ask about the status of "the package." Jefferson responded: "I gave him the African art that you gave me, and he was very pleased." When Jefferson and Mody had dinner at a Washington restaurant May 12, 2005, the FBI was listening. Jefferson indicates he will need an increased stake in the profits of one deal, the affidavit said. Instead of the 7 percent stake agreed upon, he writes "18-20" on a piece of paper and passes it to the informant. That is when negotiations move ahead and notes go back and forth, ending with Jefferson's laughter about the FBI watching it all. Throughout the conversations, Jefferson makes attempts to deflect direct connections to any bribes. He tells Mody at one point that money should be paid to businesses operated by his children. "I make a deal for my children. It wouldn't be me," Jefferson said, according to the affidavit. In a different conversation, he seeks to distance himself from bribes that must be paid to Nigerian government officials to facilitate transactions. "If he's gotta pay Minister X, we don't want to know. It's not our deal," Jefferson told the witness, according to the affidavit. "We're not paying Minister X a damn thing. That's all, you know, international fraud crap. We're not doing that." The affidavit also spells out "seven other schemes" in which Jefferson was involved; nearly all were blacked out. Jefferson, who has pledged not to resign from Congress in the face of the bribery investigation, speculated about his political future in one of the recorded conversations. When the informant Mody asked Jefferson about his political plans, he responded: "I'm gonna get your deal out of the way ... and I probably won't last long after that." Compiled from The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Reuters and Bloomberg News discussion source: 94332