Saturday, June 09, 2007
Con-man Jefferson: FBI gave me the money to entrap Atiku
Embattled United States Congressman, Rep William Jefferson told journalists yesterday that the $90,000 found in his residence was given to him by the United State's Federal Bureau of Invest-igations (FBI) to pass on to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Speaking shortly after he pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and corruption leveled against him by a Grand Jury in Alexandria, Virginia, Jefferson said his failure to do so had put paid to the agency's plan.
"Did I bribe a foreign official? Absolutely not. The $90,000 was FBIs money. The FBI gave it to me as part of the plan; part of their plan that I would give it to the Nigerian Vice President. But I did not do that," he said.
Jefferson who was indicted Monday on 16 criminal counts including racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money-laundering, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act put up a stout defense saying he was innocent.
AP quotes him as saying: “I am absolutely innocent of the charges that have been leveled against me…. I'm going to fight my heart out to clear my name.”
US viewers were inundated with television pictures of a visibly shaken Jefferson and his lawyers heading in and out of the courts to clear his name. But this is the beginning of what may yet be another long battle to convince judges that he was not guilty of charges leveled against him, after a two-year investigation into his business dealings in several African countries including Nigeria.
A federal judge has frozen Jefferson’s accounts and he was ordered to surrender his passports. His movements were also restricted to Louisiana and the Washington D.C. area. Any international travels would require an app-roval. He is not allowed to keep shotguns and rifles in his Louisiana home alt-hough he claims they were for hunting.
If convicted, Jefferson could face a maximum sentence of 235 years. He was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond.
Jefferson was re-elected to the House last year in spite of the investigations. He has however resigned from the House Small Business Commi-ttee following his indictment Monday.
Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee has voted to expand its investigation of the case to include all the subjects in the 16 count indictment. The trial will commence on January 16, 2008.
A ll the shenanigans