Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Former Legislative Assistant to Louisiana Congressman Pleads Guilty to Bribery Charges

Just to show that corruption is not limited to the Republican side of the aisle in Congress, Brent Pfeffer, a former legislative assistant to Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to bribery and conspiracy charges (criminal information here) related to secret agreements to pay Rep. Jefferson for his assistance in brokering a deal in Nigeria involving a U.S. company.  Pfeffer left  Rep. Jefferson's office in 1998, but stayed in touch with the Congressman as he worked as a consultant.  In 2004, Pfeffer worked with the president of an investment company who later began secretly cooperating in the government's investigation.  Rep. Jefferson, who is referred to as "Representative A" in the court documents, approached Pfeffer about providing assistance in putting together a deal with the investment company and a Kentucky company which was developing technology to deliver the internet through copper wires that would be sold in Nigeria. 

According to the Statement of Facts (here), Rep. Jefferson demanded that a relative's law firm be used for the deal, that another relative be placed on the payroll of a Nigerian company formed as part of the deal, and that the Congressman receive 5-7% of the value of the transaction for his role in facilitating it.  In August 2005, Rep. Jefferson's home was searched and, according to an AP story (here), agents removed cash that had been stored in a freezer.  In addition, the home of Vice President Atiku Abubakar of  Nigeria was also search in connection with the investigation of the transaction.

Rep. Jefferson is the second Congressman to be cited anonymously in plea documents recently, the other being Ohio Rep. Bob Ney in connection  with the Abramoff investigation.  In addition, former Rep. Randy ("Duke") Cunningham resigned his position after pleading guilty to bribery and tax evasion charges.  According to the Irish tradition, bad news comes in threes, but the way things are going on Capitol Hill these days, it may come in multiples of three. (ph)

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