|Jefferson aide subpoenaed by Virginia grand jury|
4/18/2007, 7:26 p.m. CDT
By CAIN BURDEAU
The Associated Press - NOLA.com
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An aide to U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, a congressman who allegedly stashed $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer, has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Virginia investigating Jefferson's African business dealings.
Despite the probe hanging over him, Jefferson, D-La., won re-election last December to his ninth term to represent a district that covers most of New Orleans.
This would be the second time the grand jury has asked Stephanie Butler, Jefferson's district manager, to appear. She was among six of Jefferson's staff members subpoenaed in March 2006 by the grand jury. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Remi Braden-Cooper, Jefferson's spokeswoman, said the subpoena was announced on the House floor Wednesday, which she said is a customary procedure for House staff. Braden-Cooper declined to discuss the probe, adding that "nobody's releasing any information about the case" because it is still before the grand jury.
The U.S. attorney's office in Virginia did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
For the past 19 months, Jefferson, 59, has been the subject of a wide-ranging investigation into allegations that he took bribes from a company seeking lucrative contracts in the Nigerian telecommunications market. He has not been charged with any crime and denies any wrongdoing. Two associates have pleaded guilty.
Jefferson's legal troubles surfaced shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29, 2005. The FBI raided his offices and homes, where the FBI alleges in an affidavit that he hid $90,000 in bribe money in a freezer.
In May 2006, the FBI raided Jefferson's congressional office, the first such raid on a sitting congressman's Capitol office. That move sparked a constitutional debate over whether the executive branch stepped over its boundary.