10 charges against ex-lawmaker upheld

March 27, 2012 at 12:54 PM   |   Comments

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RICHMOND, Va., March 27 (UPI) -- A federal appeals panel affirmed all but one charge against former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., convicted of official corruption in 2009.

Jefferson, a Democrat and longtime representative from New Orleans, was convicted of 11 counts of corruption by a Virginia jury in 2009. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday likely won't alter the 13-year prison term the trial judge sentenced Jefferson to serve, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.

Legal experts said, however, the ruling could push prosecutors to ask that Jefferson, 65, who had been free pending resolution of his appeal, be imprisoned immediately because further appeals likely would fail.

The only claim against Jefferson dismissed was a wire fraud count the judges said was improperly prosecuted in Virginia because it was a phone call was from Africa to Kentucky.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor, told The Times-Picayune the unanimous ruling "makes it very unlikely that Jefferson will prevail in further appeals."

The Jefferson case focused on allegations the lawmaker demanded payments to help businesses get contracts in western Africa but became known for the $100,000 Virginia businesswoman Lori Mody gave Jefferson in a hotel parking lot, $90,000 of which was found by agents in a freezer in Jefferson's home.

A Virginia jury found him guilty of 11 corruption charges and not guilty of five others.

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