Insight News

Saturday
Oct 25th

Congressman, can you help a brotha out?

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“He sold his office for the least common denominator of what public service is about: personal wealth” said the head of the FBI’s Washington office in regards to the conviction of former congressman William J. Jefferson.  A federal jury recently deemed the New Orleans Democrat “guilty” of using his congressional office as a criminal enterprise to enrich himself and his family.

Vernon L. Jackson and William J. Jefferson and their wives spent a pleasant weekend in New York City in the fall of 2004. The Louisville, Kentucky businessman and the Louisiana congressman watched U.S. Open tennis from an air-conditioned corporate box, attended The Lion King on Broadway and shopped together.   Rep. Jefferson and his wife had become trusted friends of the Jacksons.  The cord tying the men together was their shared opinion that Jackson's high-tech company, iGate, was going to save the government money and give poor Black people around the world access to information they couldn't otherwise afford.

That cord was well-frayed by the time the FBI investigation that took “Dollar Bill” Jefferson down began in mid-2005, after an investor alleged $400,000 in bribes were paid through a company maintained in the name of Jefferson's spouse and children.  Vernon Jackson was supplying the money; while, under the pretext of helping iGate get business, Jefferson was stealing it away.  iGate had a patent to use existing copper telephone lines, instead of expensive fiber optics, to transmit the Internet and cable television.  Jefferson was productive for the enterprise: He persuaded the U.S. Army to test iGate's broadband two-way technology and other iGate products; influenced high-ranking officials in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon; and met with personnel of the Export-Import Bank of the United States to facilitate potential financing for iGate business deals.

As he realized the commercial potential of iGate, Jefferson schemed to take it.  Jackson said he paid $330,000 to Jefferson’s wife even though she did no work and routinely received invoices from Andrea Jefferson and The ANJ Group.  Jackson said payments were made after iGate received money from an African business arrangement William Jefferson helped secure.   Jackson, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence, testified that, “I was paying him to use his office on behalf of iGate,” and said that Jefferson once personally handed him an ANJ invoice for $200,000.

At trial, Jefferson admitted that his acts were “ethically challenging,” and his attorney said Jefferson was “acting as a private businessman in projects that included Jackson”.  Jefferson helped Jackson get a contract with a Nigerian company, NDTV.  Then, forced Jackson to sign an agreement to pay The ANJ Group $7,500 a month and give the company 1 million shares of stock.  After NDTV paid iGate $5 million, the ANJ Group illustrated their blood-sucking tendencies, asking Jackson for 29 million more shares, which gave the Jefferson family 24 percent of a $5 million business they never paid a dime for.

Jefferson’s congressional career spiraled after July 39th, 2005 when he was videotaped by the FBI receiving $100,000 in a leather briefcase at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Virginia, telling investor, Lori Mody, who was wearing a wire, that he would need to give Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar $500,000 "as a motivating factor" to make sure they obtained contracts for iGate and Mody's company in Nigeria.

In 2004, segments of his deals went south, the NDTV partnership soured and the company threatened to expose Jefferson to international and U.S. authorities if it wasn’t repaid.  Jefferson eventually worked out an agreement for iGate to pay $3.5 million and then sought $10 million from Mody to take over iGate.  Mody provided $3.5 million to take NDTV’s place in Nigeria and in two payments wired $89,225 to the ANJ Group.  After Mody and iGate got into a dispute, she contacted the FBI and eventually became a cooperating witness against Jefferson.  It was Mody who gave Jefferson $100,000 in marked FBI bills as part of a 2005 sting.  Agents said that $90,000 of the money that was intended to bribe Nigeria’s vice president was recovered in Jefferson’s Washington home freezer.

(William Reed – www.BlackPressInternational.com)
 

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