The William Jefferson Chronicles

Jefferson seeks to bar indictment
Published: March. 24, 2009 at 4:59 PM

NEW ORLEANS, March 24 (UPI) -- Attorneys for former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., say they want to prevent the jury at his upcoming trial from seeing the indictment against him.

Jefferson is charged with accepting bribes from U.S. businesses in exchange for his help arranging transactions for them in West Africa. The charges against him are complex, involving 11 separate alleged schemes, and federal prosecutors say jurors should be able to study the indictment against Jefferson in order to sort them all out, The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans reported Tuesday.

But Jefferson's attorneys argue in court filings that that would "prejudice" jurors because the indictment contains allegations whose factual accuracy are in dispute. Thus, they say, the many "invoices, communications, contracts, negotiation notes, travel correspondent and instructions to congressional (staffers)" contained in the indictment don't have anything to do with any alleged criminal behavior.

The Times-Picayune quoted Jefferson attorney Robert Trout saying that allowing the indictment to be introduced "gives rise to the danger that Mr. Jefferson would be convicted for conduct that does not constitute a crime."

Jefferson's trial on 16 counts of bribery, racketeering, conspiracy and other charges is set for May 26.

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