Judge sets Jefferson's trial date

June 13, 2008 at 8:06 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 13 (UPI) -- The federal corruption case of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., will begin Dec. 2, a judge announced Friday.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III set the date the same day he refused a request by the Democratic congressman's attorneys for a change in venue from Virginia to Washington, D.C., the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

His lawyers argued that prosecutors chose Virginia because it has a smaller proportion of African-American jurors to consider the black congressman's case.

One of Jefferson's attorneys, Robert Trout, accused the Justice Department of "purposeful discrimination" in bringing the case in Virginia, the newspaper reported.

However, Ellis said he found no evidence that the government had manipulated events to hold the trial in Virginia.

Jefferson faces charges of bribery, racketeering and conspiracy in connection with business deals he was assisting in Africa.

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