William Jefferson jury concludes third day without verdict
by Bruce Alpert and Jonathan Tilove, The Times-Picayune
Monday August 03, 2009, 4:30 PM
ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- Jurors concluded their third day of deliberations in the corruption case of former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson without reaching a verdict.
They are scheduled to return Tuesday morning.
Jefferson, who represented the New Orleans-based 2nd Congressional District for nine terms, faces a 16-count indictment that includes charges of bribery, racketeering and mail fraud.
Prosecutors say Jefferson agreed to help American businesses negotiate contracts in Western Africa in exchange for payments to companies controlled by family members. The defense team says Jefferson was acting as a private citizen and never offered a vote, earmark, appropriation or other "official act," and is therefore not subject the the bribery statutes in the indictment.
Today's events come four years after FBI raids of Jefferson's homes in New Orleans and Washington, D.C. The raids brought the investigation into the public eye and also yielded the most iconic element of the case: $90,000 found hidden in the congressman's freezer.
After six weeks of testimony the defense presented its case in two hours last week before closing arguments Wednesday. Jury instructions were issued Thursday morning by Judge T.S. Ellis, with deliberations beginning that afternoon.
Legal observers have noted the complexity of the case would prompt a lengthy review by the jurors who were seated June 9.