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US congressman indicted on bribery, money laundering charges

[JURIST] US Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) [official website; JURIST news archive] was indicted [DOJ press release] Monday on 16 counts, including charges of bribery, racketeering, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. Jefferson allegedly solicited bribes from numerous companies both in the US and in Africa, setting up a fake company to launder the money. Due to the international nature of the alleged acts, Jefferson is facing charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [DOJ materials]. If convicted on all counts, Jefferson faces up to 235 years in prison.

Last year, two associates of Jefferson pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the investigation into the congressman. Former aide Brett Pfeffer pleaded guilty to bribery charges [DOJ press release] last January. Last May, businessman Vernon L. Jackson pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson [press release; WP report] and was subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison for paying more than $400,000 in bribes for Jefferson's influence in securing telecommunication contracts in West Africa. As part of the investigation, FBI agents conducted an 18-hour raid on Jefferson's congressional offices [JURIST report] last year. Jefferson is currently challenging the raid [JURIST report] before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. AP has more.

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