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Dem. Congressman caught on tape taking $100,000 in $100 bills

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/05/21/D8HOCUJ81.html Filing: Tape Shows Lawmaker Taking Money May 21 4:35 PM US/Eastern By MATTHEW BARAKAT Associated Press
    Message 1 of 1 , May 21, 2006
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      http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/05/21/D8HOCUJ81.html

      Filing: Tape Shows Lawmaker Taking Money
      May 21 4:35 PM US/Eastern

      By MATTHEW BARAKAT
      Associated Press Writer

      ALEXANDRIA, Va.

      A congressman under investigation for bribery was
      caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills
      from an FBI informant whose conversations with the
      lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court
      document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash
      hidden in his freezer.

      At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson,
      D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret
      what the government contends was his corrupt role in
      getting his children a cut of a communications
      company's deal for work in Africa.

      As Jefferson and the informant passed notes about what
      percentage the lawmaker's family might receive, the
      congressman "began laughing and said, 'All these damn
      notes we're writing to each other as if we're talking,
      as if the FBI is watching,'" according to the
      affidavit.

      Jefferson, who represents New Orleans, has not been
      charged and denies any wrongdoing.

      As for the $100,000, the government says Jefferson got
      the money in a leather briefcase last July 30 at the
      Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington. The plan was for the
      lawmaker to use the cash to bribe a high-ranking
      Nigerian official _ the name is blacked out in the
      court document _ to ensure the success of a business
      deal in that country, the affidavit said.

      All but $10,000 was recovered on Aug. 3 when the FBI
      searched Jefferson's home in Washington. The money was
      stuffed in his freezer, wrapped in $10,000 packs and
      concealed in food containers and aluminum foil.

      Two of Jefferson's associates have pleaded guilty to
      bribery-related charges in federal court in
      Alexandria. One, businessman Vernon Jackson of
      Louisville, Ky., admitted paying more than $400,000 in
      bribes to the lawmaker in exchange for his help
      securing business deals for Jackson's
      telecommunications company in Nigeria and other
      African countries.

      The new details about the case emerged after federal
      agents searched Jefferson's congressional office on
      Capitol Hill Saturday night and Sunday. The nearly
      100-page affidavit for a search warrant, made public
      Sunday with large portions blacked out, spells out
      much of the evidence so far.

      The document includes excerpts of conversations
      between Jefferson and an unidentified business
      executive from northern Virginia. She agreed to wear a
      wire after she approached the FBI with complaints that
      Jefferson and an associate had ripped her off in a
      business deal.

      Jefferson's lawyer, Robert Trout, contended that the
      prosecutors' disclosure was "part of a public
      relations agenda and an attempt to embarrass
      Congressman Jefferson. The affidavit itself is just
      one side of the story which has not been tested in
      court," Trout said in a statement.

      The affidavit says Jefferson is caught on videotape at
      the Ritz- Carlton as he takes a reddish-brown
      briefcase from the trunk of the informant's car, slips
      it into a cloth bag, puts the bag into his 1990
      Lincoln Town Car and drives away.

      The $100 bills in the suitcase had the same serial
      numbers as those found in Jefferson's freezer.

      While the name of the intended recipient of the
      $100,000 is blacked out, other details in the
      affidavit indicate he is Abubakar Atiku, Nigeria's
      vice president. He owns a home in Potomac, Md., that
      authorities have searched as part of the Jefferson
      investigation.

      Jefferson assured the FBI informant in their coded
      conversations that he paid the money to the Nigerian
      official, even though the money was still in
      Jefferson's possession when agents searched his home
      Aug. 3.

      On Aug. 1, two days after Jefferson picked up the
      $100,000, the informant called Jefferson to ask about
      the status of "the package."

      Jefferson responded: "I gave him the African art that
      you gave me and he was very pleased."

      When Jefferson and the informant had dinner at a
      Washington restaurant on May 12, 2005, the FBI was
      listening, too. Jefferson indicates he will need an
      increased stake in the profits of one deal, the
      affidavit said. Instead of the 7 percent stake
      originally agreed upon, he writes "18-20" on a piece
      of paper and passes it to the informant.

      That is when negotiations move ahead and notes go back
      and forth, ending with Jefferson's laughter about the
      FBI watching it all.

      Throughout the conversations, Jefferson makes attempts
      to deflect direct connections to any bribes.

      He tells the informant at one point that money should
      be paid to businesses operated by his children. "I
      make a deal for my children. It wouldn't be me,"
      Jefferson said, according to the affidavit.

      In a different conversation, Jefferson seeks to
      distance himself from bribes that must be paid to
      Nigerian government officials to facilitate
      transactions.

      "If he's gotta pay Minister X, we don't want to know.
      It's not our deal," Jefferson told the witness,
      according to the affidavit. "We're not paying Minister
      X a damn thing. That's all, you know, international
      fraud crap. We're not doing that. We're not doing any
      of that that gets us (unintelligible)."

      The affidavit also spells out "seven other schemes" in
      which Jefferson was involved; nearly all were blacked
      out in the document.

      The Jefferson investigation has provided fodder for
      Republicans who have suffered black eyes in the
      investigations of current and former GOP lawmakers,
      including Tom DeLay and Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

      Jefferson, who has pledged not to resign from Congress
      in the face of the bribery investigation, speculated
      about his political future in one of the recorded
      conversations.

      When the informant asked Jefferson about his political
      plans, he responded: "I'm gonna get your deal out of
      the way ... and I probably won't last long after
      that."
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