Friday, May 05, 2006

Bribery investigation closes in on La. Democrat

Following on the heels of the Mollohan case, here's another demonstration that Republicans don't have a corner on the corruption market:

A while back, Brent Pfeffer, an aide to Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., pleaded guilty to demanding bribes and implicated his boss.

A couple of days ago, a contractor pleaded guilty to paying Jefferson more than $400,000.

Vernon Jackson, 53, chief executive of the Louisville, Ky.-based telecommunications firm iGate Inc., admitted to bribery of a public official and conspiracy to bribe a public official during a plea hearing in US District Court.

Court records make clear that the congressman whom Jackson admits bribing is Jefferson, who represents New Orleans in the House. ... Prosecutor Mark Lytle said Jackson paid $367,500 in checks and wire transfers over a four-year period to a company controlled by the congressman's wife in exchange for help promoting iGate technology in Africa. Jackson also gave the company a 24 percent stake in iGate and paid for $80,000 in travel expenses on the congressman's trips to Africa to promote iGate, which uses technology to transmit data over traditional telephone lines.

Jefferson denies wrongdoing. But prosecutors say he is the target of the investigation. And two solid convictions of other players, both of whom implicate Jefferson, spell bad news for the Congressman.

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