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Rep. Jefferson’s Freezer: Only the Tip of the Iceberg of Congressional Corruption

September 13, 2009
Allan C. Brownfeld
9/9/2009

Early in August, former Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA) was convicted of corruption charges in a case made famous by the $90,000 in bribe money stuffed into his freezer. Federal jurors found Jefferson guilty of using his congressional office as a criminal enterprise to enrich himself, soliciting and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to support his business ventures in Africa.

In making his closing argument before the jury, defense attorney Robert Trout attempted to put all of Washington on trial. “We all occupy the gray area — it’s just part of our human nature,” he explained. “We’re going to make mistakes…. we may do reckless things.”

To illustrate his analogy, Trout displayed a graphic for the jurors. On one side of a yellow line were the words “recklessness,” “negligence,” and “mistakes” — and a headless man in jacket and tie raising his hands in a shrug. “The point here is what Members of Congress are expected to do in their jobs,” said Trout. “If seeking political help was a crime, you could lock up half of metropolitan Washington, D.C.”

The story continues …..

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