The William Jefferson Chronicles

Jury in Mose Jefferson trial asks for transcripts of secretly taped conversations
by Laura Maggi, The Times-Picayune
Friday August 21, 2009, 9:37 AM

A federal jury this morning resumed deliberations in the case accusing political operative Mose Jefferson of bribing former Orleans Parish school board member Ellenese Brooks-Simms to garner her vote and support for a computer-based math program he was selling.

U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon told the lawyers that jurors had requested additional transcripts of the taped conversations between Brooks-Simms and Jefferson, which she said would be provided. Outside the jurors' presence, the attorneys argued over which transcripts would be provided, with Lemmon siding with a prosecution request that an unredacted transcript in evidence would be included.

The transcripts are of two conversations that were taped by Brooks-Simms after she agreed to cooperate with federal authorities and wear a wire. They are just over a couple hours long, attorneys have said.

Jefferson, the older brother of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, paid $140,000 to Brooks-Simms from December 2003 to January 2005. He called the payments a gift for a cash-strapped friend and former lover. Brooks-Simms, who through her attorney has denied ever having an affair with Jefferson, said she was bribed to support the I CAN Learn computer-based algebra tutorial.

The school board twice voted to buy the algebra teaching system, approving contracts worth almost $14 million in 2003 and 2004.

Jefferson's attorney, Michael Fawer, has pointed out that the system had broad support on the school board and was a cornerstone of then-Superintendent Tony Amato's efforts to improve math scores in New Orleans.

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