Former Rep. William Jefferson not expected to testify, attorney says
by Bruce Alpert, The Times-Picayune
Wednesday July 22, 2009, 4:46 PM
ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- Former Rep. William Jefferson is not expected to testify in his federal corruption trial, his attorney said today, setting up the possibility that the defense could open and rest its case Thursday.
Lead attorney Robert Trout told Judge T.S. Ellis III, that "we do not expect" to call the nine-term Democrat to testify on his on behalf.
Ellis said both sides had assured him they could wrap up the case by mid-day Thursday, when the court will recess for a long weekend, staying out through Monday. Closing arguments could begin when court resumes Tuesday, with the jury getting the case later next week.
The question of whether Jefferson would testify has been a subject of conjecture as the prosecution moved to the end its case.
Jefferson is facing 16 counts of bribery, racketeering and other charges.
For more than a month the prosecution has presented testimony, documentary evidence and audio and videotapes to persuade the jury that the congressman used his office to help American companies and investors do business in West Africa in exchange for payments and retainers for members of his family. The defense argument is that in those business dealings, Jefferson was acting as a private citizen and not a member of Congress, that he drew a line between what was legal and illegal and did not cross it.