Another tip of the corruption iceberg
The infamous $90,000 in cash found in the freezer of a former
Louisiana congressman accused of taking bribes is evidence of nothing
more than a failed FBI sting, a defense lawyer told jurors Tuesday.
a Democrat who represented parts of New Orleans until losing his
re-election bid last year, is charged with soliciting bribes,
racketeering, money laundering and other crimes. Prosecutors say he
received more than $500,000 and sought millions more in exchange for
using his influence to broker business deals in Africa.
In opening statements Tuesday in U.S. District Court, defense lawyer Robert Trout
addressed at the outset what he called the "elephant in the room" — the
cash that was found in the freezer in Jefferson's Washington home and
captured most of the headlines associated with the case.
Jefferson and his wife had more than $60,000 in credit card debt,
more than $40,000 in bounced check fees and bank penalties and had been
paying for Ivy League educations for his five daughters. The financial
pressure may have motivated him to seek bribes.
"This case is about ... one of our government's most powerful
officials using his public office for private gain repeatedly," Lytle
The FBI sting involving the cash that ended up in the freezer
is just one part of the government's case. Prosecutors allege numerous
bribery schemes involving Jefferson and multiple companies.