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More Delay In Jefferson’s Appeal

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals won’t hear former Congressman William Jefferson’s appeal until late October. 

His appellate argument was first set for May this year. But his lawyer’s illness pushed the date to September, and a crowded calendar force the appeals court to reschedule until sometime between October 25 and 28.

Here’s a full report from Bruce Alpert at the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Three years ago, Jefferson, now 64, became the first member of Congress to be charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Two years later, he became the first individual in nearly twenty years to be acquitted of a substantive FCPA charge.

But he was convicted on an FCPA conspiracy count. Now he’s asking an appeals court to toss the conviction and order a new trial.

As the Times-Picayune’s Alpert said, “The case is best known for the $90,000 the FBI found hidden in the freezer of Jefferson’s Washington, D.C., home. Prosecutors said the marked bills had been given to Jefferson by a cooperating witness for what agents believed was intended to be a bribe to an African official. Jefferson was not convicted on that count.”

After an eight-week trial in Alexandria, Virginia, a jury acquitted Jefferson of the only substantive FCPA charge he faced. But he was convicted on 11 other counts, including conspiracy to violate the FCPA. He was also found guilty of soliciting and taking bribes, depriving citizens of honest services, money laundering and racketeering, and conspiracy to solicit bribes.

Judge Tim Ellis sentenced Jefferson to thirteen years in prison but freed him pending his appeal to the fourth circuit.

Jefferson’s conspiracy count contained three objects: to solicit bribes, to deprive citizens of honest services by wire fraud, and to violate the FCPA. Because the bribery and honest services objects were tainted by erroneous jury instructions, he’s arguing, the FCPA-related object was also tainted and should be tossed.

“Count 1 would have to be retried because one of the alleged objects of the conspiracy (violation of the FCPA) involves neither bribery nor honest-services wire fraud,” Jefferson’s appeal brief said.

On the rest of the counts, Jefferson said he was acting as a private citizen, while a corruption statute he was convicted under applies only to public acts by elected officials.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal (pictured above) sits in Richmond, Virginia.

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