New Orleans, La. – After serving nine terms in Congress, William Jefferson is now fighting corruption charges that could put him in jail for 20 years. The government alleges he used his office to get bribes and contracts in Africa. He says he never abused his public office. During the investigation, federal agents found $90-thousand dollars in cash that had been given to him a sting operation in the freezer of his Washington home. The investigation pushed into new territory when his Congressional office was raided, a place traditionally off-limits to federal investigators. He pleaded innocent in June 2007, but damage was done to his political career. He lost his seat to Republican newcomer Joseph Cao in a special election last fall. The trial in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, may take six weeks to conclude.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.