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Jefferson’s Case Heads To The Jury

His defense took just two hours to present. Now, according to the Times Picayune, the jury will hear closing arguments Wednesday and begin deliberating William Jefferson’s fate. Here’s how the paper began its report of the final day of testimony:

In a moment of courtroom drama Thursday, the prosecutors in the corruption trial of William Jefferson withdrew their objections and let the former New Orleans congressman’s attorneys play nearly 90 minutes of secretly taped recordings that the defense team said was crucial to his case.

“Play them all Mr. Trout, play them all,” Judge T.S. Ellis III said to lead defense attorney Robert Trout after the government legal team relented under pressure from Ellis, who had promised jurors they would be done by 1 p.m. and promised his mother he would pick her up in advance of a long weekend, and “I’m not going to be late.”

After more than five weeks of prosecution witnesses, the defense presented its entire case in about two hours.

Jefferson, 62, is the first member of congress to have been indicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He’s accused of violating the FCPA by arranging bribes to the vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, in exchange for contracts for his family’s companies, and with soliciting and accepting bribes, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. He faces up to 20 years in prison. He lost an election last year for a 10th term in the House of Representatives from a district that includes New Orleans.

Jefferson’s case is best known for the cash found in his freezer. The FBI had given its cooperating witness, Lori Mody, $100,000 in marked bills to pass to him after he allegedly told her about his plan to bribe the Nigerian vice president. The money was supposed to be a down payment. The FBI later found $90,000 of that cash in Jefferson’s freezer.

Read all our posts about William Jefferson here.

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