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Judge Orders Release of Congressman Sentenced for Bribery

Judge Orders Release of Congressman Sentenced for Bribery

Friday, 06 October 2017 10:51 AM

A former Louisiana congressman sentenced to 13 years in prison on bribery charges who was famously caught hiding $90,000 cash in his freezer has been ordered to be immediately released from jail to receive a new sentencing hearing.

The ruling ordering the release of ex-Rep. William Jefferson follows a Supreme Court decision last year making it more difficult to convict public officials on bribery-related offenses.

Jefferson, 70, a Democrat who represented parts of New Orleans, has been serving his sentence since 2012. He was convicted of accepting more than $400,000 in bribes and seeking millions more in exchange for brokering business deals in Africa. The 2005 raid of his Washington home that turned up cash stuffed in frozen food boxes made him fodder for late-night comedians.

In a ruling made public Thursday, U.S. Senior Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria said a new sentencing hearing is necessary because the Supreme Court has subsequently changed what constitutes "an official act" for which a public official can be convicted of bribery.

Ellis vacated seven of the 10 counts on which Jefferson was convicted. On two of the remaining counts, Jefferson received a five-year sentence, and on the third, he received a 13-year sentence. But Ellis said there is no guarantee that Jefferson would again receive a 13-year sentence on that count, so he ordered a new sentencing hearing for Dec. 1.

Before then, though, the government must decide by Oct. 16 if it wants to retry Jefferson on the seven counts that were tossed out.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of Virginia, which prosecuted the case, said the office is weighing whether to seek a retrial.

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A former Louisiana congressman sentenced to 13 years in prison on bribery charges who was famously caught hiding $90,000 cash in his freezer has been ordered to be immediately released from jail to receive a new sentencing hearing.
us, congressman, bribery charges
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2017-51-06
Friday, 06 October 2017 10:51 AM
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