534 F.Supp.2d 645 (E.D.Va. 2008), 1 07cr209, United States v. Jefferson

Docket Nº:1 07cr209
Citation:534 F.Supp.2d 645
Party Name:United States v. Jefferson
Case Date:February 13, 2008
Court:United States District Courts, 4th Circuit, Eastern District of Virginia
 
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534 F.Supp.2d 645 (E.D.Va. 2008)

UNITED STATES of America

v.

William J. JEFFERSON, Defendant.

No. 1:07cr209.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division.

Feb. 13, 2008

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Amy Berman Jackson, Robert Powel Trout, Trout Cacheris PLLC, Washington, DC, for William J. Jefferson.

Mark Lytle, Rebeca H. Bellows, United States Attorney's Office, Alexandria, VA, Charles E. Duross, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for United States of America.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

T.S. ELLIS, III, District Judge.

In this sixteen-count prosecution, the government charges defendant William J. Jefferson, a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives, with a variety of crimes including conspiracy, wire fraud, foreign corrupt practices, money laundering, obstructing justice, racketeering, and soliciting bribes. Among the numerous pretrial motions filed by defendant is the motion now before the Court to review grand jury materials and to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the indictment was returned on the basis of information privileged by the Speech or Debate Clause, U.S. Const. Art. I, § 6, cl. 1. The matter was fully briefed and argued, and a bench ruling and Order issued denying defendant's motion. United States v. Jefferson, 1:07cr209 (E.D.Va. Feb. 6, 2008) (Order). This Memorandum Opinion incorporates and elucidates the reasons for the denial of defendant's motion.

I.

Defendant is the currently sitting Member of the United States House of Representatives representing Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District, an office he has held since 1991. The indictment alleges that beginning in or about January 2001, defendant used his office to advance the business interests of various individuals and corporations in return for money and

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other things of value paid either directly to defendant or via 'nominee companies,' that is, companies ostensibly controlled by one of defendant's family members but in fact controlled by defendant himself. More specifically, the indictment alleges seven bribery schemes, each of which merits brief description here.

First, the indictment alleges that defendant solicited bribes from Vernon Jackson, president of iGate, Incorporated (iGate), a Louisville, Kentucky-based telecommunications firm, to promote iGate's telecommunications technology in certain African countries. In return for payments of money and iGate shares to the ANJ Group, L.L.C. (ANJ), a Louisiana limited liability company ostensibly controlled and managed by defendant's spouse, Andrea Jefferson, defendant allegedly sent letters on official letterhead, conducted official travel, and met with foreign government officials to promote the use of iGate's technology.

Second, the indictment alleges that defendant solicited bribes from Netlink Digital Television (Netlink), a Nigerian corporation that was pursuing a telecommunications venture in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. In return for a share of revenue, stocks, and fees from Netlink, defendant allegedly performed various official acts including meeting with Nigerian government officials to promote Netlink's business.

Third, the indictment alleges that defendant induced Lori Mody, an Alexandria, Virginia-based businesswoman, to finance a telecommunications project in Africa using iGate's technology. Defendant allegedly solicited bribes from Mody in the form of shares in W2-IBBS, a Nigerian company formed by Mody to pursue the Nigerian telecommunications project, as well as money to be paid to defendant's family members. In return for these bribes, defendant allegedly used his office to promote W2-IBBS's interests in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. Defendant also allegedly solicited bribes in the form of shares in IBBS, a Ghanian company formed by Mody to pursue the telecommunications project in that country. In return, defendant allegedly sent letters on official letterhead, conducted official travel to Ghana, and met with Ghanian government officials to promote Mody's, IBBS's, and W2-IBBS's interests in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa. The indictment also alleges that to advance this bribery scheme, defendant introduced Mody to officials of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) 1 to assist Mody in securing financial assistance. Defendant and Mody also allegedly discussed bribing Nigerian government officials to facilitate the W2-IBBS telecommunications project. It is further alleged that defendant then met with and offered to bribe Atiku Abubakar, who was then the Vice President of Nigeria. And, according to the indictment, defendant received $100,000 in cash from Mody for the purpose of paying Abubakar a bribe.

Fourth, the indictment alleges that defendant solicited and received bribes from businessman George Knost and from Arkel International, Inc., Arkel Sugar, Inc., and Arkel Oil and Gas, Inc. In return for the bribes, defendant allegedly performed various official acts, including meeting with officials of the Ex-Im Bank to promote an Arkel Sugar project in Nigeria and meeting with Nigerian government officials to promote the interests of Arkel Oil and Gas.

Fifth, the indictment alleges that defendant solicited and received bribes from businessman John Melton and from TDC

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Energy Overseas, Inc. (TDC). In return for these bribes, defendant allegedly performed various official acts, including meeting with Nigerian government officials to promote TDC's interests in Nigeria and meeting with officials of the United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA) 2 to encourage the USTDA to grant TDC financial assistance for TDC's Nigerian oil field project.

Sixth, the indictment alleges that defendant, through an intermediary, lobbyist James Creaghan, solicited bribes from businesswoman Noreen Wilson in return for which defendant used his office to assist in resolving a dispute over oil exploration rights in the waters off Sao Tome and Principe. It is alleged that defendant received payments from Wilson, via Creaghan, either directly or through a nominee company.

Seventh, the indictment alleges that defendant solicited and received bribes from Life Energy Technology Holdings (LETH), a Delaware corporation engaged in the business of manufacturing and distributing energy-related technology. In return for these bribes, it is alleged that defendant traveled in his official capacity to Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and Sao Tome and Principe and met with government officials in those countries to promote LETH's technology to those government officials.

Based on these alleged facts, the indictment charges defendant with sixteen counts of wrongdoing: conspiracy to solicit bribes, deprive citizens of honest services by wire fraud, and violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (Counts 1 & 2); solicitation of bribes by a public official (Counts 3 & 4); deprivation of honest services by wire fraud (Counts 5-10); violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (Count 11); money laundering (Counts 12-14); obstruction of justice (Count 15); and racketeering (Count 16).

Defendant has filed a number of pretrial motions challenging various aspects of the indictment and the prosecution. 3 Among these motions is defendant's motion for review of materials presented to the grand jury and to dismiss the indictment based on defendant's belief that the grand jury returned the indictment in reliance on materials privileged by the Speech or Debate Clause. Defendant believes that the grand jury testimony of his congressional aides would have impermissibly included Speech or Debate Clause materials. In response, the government filed a pleading representing that no Speech or Debate material had been presented to the grand jury. In support of this representation, the government specifically stated that Brett Pfeffer, a former member of defendant's congressional staff who entered into a plea agreement with the United States in

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return for his cooperation in this prosecution, did not testify before the grand jury. The government also specifically represented that recordings of conversations between Pfeffer and Mody were not presented to the grand jury. Additionally, the government allowed defense counsel to review, in the offices of the United States Attorney, the grand jury testimony transcripts of seven former and current members of defendant's congressional staff. The government did so in an attempt to allay defendant's concerns that Speech or Debate Clause material was presented to the grand jury for purposes of obtaining an indictment.

Following review of these transcripts, defendant filed a reply memorandum identifying three specific excerpts of the grand jury transcripts made available by the government which, in defendant's view, contain Speech or Debate material. The government filed a sur-reply memorandum arguing that the passages in the grand jury testimony identified by defendant did not reflect an infringement of the Speech or Debate Clause. And finally, defendant had the last word in this regard by filing yet another memorandum disputing the government's position.

Oral argument on this matter was heard on November 30, 2007. To begin with, defendant's request for disclosure of the grand jury record to defense counsel was denied...

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