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Judge rules against Jefferson claim

Judge rules against Jefferson claim
Rep. William Jefferson | License Photo

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 27 (UPI) -- Prosecutors won't have to prove that former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., sought payments from businesses to try him on bribery charges, a judge says.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III's ruling Tuesday in Alexandria, Va., blocked Jefferson's efforts to argue the legal definition of "official acts" didn't apply to his interactions with Louisiana businesses seeking his help in landing contracts in Western Africa, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.

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In his ruling, Ellis wrote, "It is sufficient for the government to adduce proof, including expert testimony or evidence of defendant's admissions and conduct, that it was customary for members of Congress in defendant's position to exert influence -- by advice, recommendation or otherwise, on the issues in question."

Jefferson is scheduled to face trial on 16 charges including bribery, racketeering, and honest services fraud, standing accused of seeking and receiving payments to businesses owned by family members in return for introductions to African leaders.

Jefferson claims those activities were not part of any official duties such as voting or introducing legislation, The Times-Picayune reported.

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