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DOJ pressing bribery case against congressman despite high court setback

[JURIST] A US Department of Justice spokesman said Monday that the department would continue to press its bribery case against Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) [official profile; JURIST news archive] despite the US Supreme Court's refusal to review an appeals court ruling [PDF text; JURIST report] that held the FBI's conduct during an 18-hour raid on Jefferson's congressional offices was unconstitutional. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit had ruled that, although the May 2006 raid itself was legal, the "compelled disclosure of privileged material to the Executive during execution of the search warrant" violated the Speech or Debate Clause [text] because the FBI searched through privileged materials without giving Jefferson an opportunity to review the materials.

In June, Jefferson pleaded not guilty to charges [JURIST reports] under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [DOJ materials], including bribery, racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Jefferson is accused of accepting approximately $500,000 in bribes from numerous companies in the US and Africa and faces a maximum sentence of 235 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts. Last January, former Jefferson aide Brett Pfeffer pleaded guilty [DOJ press release] to bribery charges for his role in the scheme. AP has more.

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