Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana was convicted Wednesday on 11 of the 16 corruption charges against him in a case that included the discovery of $90,000 in his freezer.According to the prosecutor, Jefferson could be looking at 20 years behind bars. Jefferson plans to appeal.
A federal court jury convicted Jefferson on four bribery counts, three counts of money laundering, three counts of wire fraud and one count of racketeering. He was acquitted on five other counts including wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Jefferson, a 62-year-old Democrat, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 4, 2007, about two years after federal agents said they found the cash in his freezer. Authorities said the cash was part of a payment in marked bills from an FBI informant in a transaction captured on video.
Jefferson had pleaded not guilty. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 150 years in prison, with sentencing tentatively set for October 30.
After the verdict on the fifth day of jury deliberations, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis turned down a prosecution request for Jefferson to be taken into custody, ruling that he posed no flight risk.
The verdict showed that "no person, not even a congressman, is above the law," said U.S. Attorney Dana Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia. Asked what might have turned the case in the prosecution's favor, Boente said: "We always thought that a powerful piece of evidence in this case was $90,000 in a freezer."