Ex-Rep. Jefferson set for trial

June 8, 2009 at 12:26 AM

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 8 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who has admitted "mistakes," is set to go before jurors who will decide whether he committed crimes.

Jefferson's trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in federal court in Virginia, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Sunday. Jefferson, 62, faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of taking bribes from business owners trying to get contracts in Africa.

Jefferson became notorious when FBI agents, almost four years ago, said they found $90,000 in cash concealed in a freezer in his Washington-area home. The scandal eventually cost him his political career -- he was indicted in 2007 and lost his heavily Democratic district the following year in a close race with Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao.

The investigation featured the first Justice Department raid on a congressional office, the newspaper said.

Jefferson has consistently denied criminal acts.

"Did I make mistakes in judgment along the way that I now deeply regret? Yes," Jefferson told reporters in June 2007. "But did I sell my office or trade official acts for money? Absolutely not. This case involved private business activities and not official acts."

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