|Mose Jefferson called his sister after she agreed to cooperate with prosecutors|
by The Times-Picayune
Friday June 20, 2008, 6:58 AM
Mose Jefferson called his sister Brenda Foster and tried to meet with her after learning she agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in a corruption case in which he and other family members are accused of stealing $600,000 from three charities they founded, prosecutors said during an arraignment hearing Friday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy Taylor also said a second sibling, Archie Jefferson, called Brenda after the guilty plea to set up a meeting with her. He has not been charged in the scheme but was present at today's arraignment.
At Taylor's request, U.S. Magistrate Judge Louis Moore warned the three defendants -- Mose Jefferson; his sister, 4th District Assessor Betty Jefferson; and her daughter, Angela Coleman -- to avoid future contact with Foster. Foster pleaded guilty Wednesday to concealing knowledge of a crime and signed a plea agreement that requires her to testify against her siblings if asked.
On Friday, her relatives maintained their innocence. Asked by Moore to enter a plea, Mose Jefferson replied: "Absolutely not guilty."
All three are close relatives of embattled U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, who is also facing political corruption charges. The congressman announced this week that he intends to run for re-election to a 10th term.
Though it clearly displeased prosecutors, Mose Jefferson did nothing wrong in calling Foster earlier in the week, provided he did not try to intimidate Foster, said Dane Ciolino, a professor at Loyola Law School.
Typically, defendants are barred from such contact as a condition of bail. But before the condition is imposed, defendants may speak with whomever they like, Ciolino said.
Moore set bail, along with other restrictions, including the ban on contact with Foster, at Friday's hearing. The ban will not extend to Archie Jefferson because he is not charged.
Ike Spears, who represents both Betty and Mose Jefferson, noted that the Jefferson family is large and said he did not want his clients to get into trouble for communicating with relatives who might in turn speak with Foster.
Moore set a trial date of Aug. 18, although that date will almost certainly be pushed back. The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten would not say how the government became aware of Mose and Archie Jefferson's efforts to contact Foster.
"I'm not at liberty to say how we know, but we know," he said. "Our sources are extremely reliable."
Spears would not address the effort to contact Foster but called it a "non-issue."