562 F.Supp.2d 687 (E.D.Va. 2008), 1 07cr209, United States v. Jefferson

Docket Nº:1 07cr209
Citation:562 F.Supp.2d 687
Party Name:United States v. Jefferson
Case Date:May 23, 2008
Court:United States District Courts, 4th Circuit, Eastern District of Virginia
 
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Page 687

562 F.Supp.2d 687 (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.

May 23, 2008

Page 688

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

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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

T.S. ELLIS, III, District Judge.

The government, in a sixteen-count indictment (the “Indictment" ), charges defendant William J. Jefferson, a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives, with a variety of crimes including conspiracy, wire fraud, violating

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the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, money laundering, obstructing justice, racketeering, and soliciting bribes. Defendant has moved to dismiss the Indictment's bribery counts, Counts 3 and 4, on the ground that these counts fail to allege facts establishing a necessary element of bribery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201 (1994). Specifically, defendant argues that the Indictment does not identify any “official act" performed by defendant in return for any thing of value. Defendant also seeks dismissal, derivatively, of Counts 1 and 2 (conspiracy), 5-10 (wire fraud), 12-14 (money laundering), and 16 (racketeering), to the extent that those counts are predicated on the bribery violations alleged in Counts 3 and 4.

For the reasons that follow, the Indictment's bribery allegations are sufficient and defendant's motion must be denied.

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 other things of value paid either directly to defendant or via ‘nominee companies,’ i.e., companies ostensibly controlled by one of defendant's family members, but in fact controlled by defendant himself. The specific schemes alleged in the Indictment are described in greater detail in an earlier Memorandum Opinion. United States v. Jefferson, 534 F.Supp.2d 645 (E.D.Va.2008). At issue here are the two bribery schemes alleged in Counts 3 and 4.

Count 3 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. Specifically, the Indictment alleges that in or about January 2001, defendant informed Jackson that defendant would use his congressional office to promote iGate's business interests only if Jackson agreed to make payments to ANJ Group, L.L.C. (ANJ), a Louisiana company controlled and managed by defendant's spouse, Andrea Jefferson. Defendant allegedly prepared a “professional services agreement" that provided for payments from iGate to ANJ in the form of (i) monthly $7,500.00 payments, (ii) a percentage of iGate's income, and (iii) stock options. In return for these payments, defendant allegedly advanced iGate's business interests by, inter alia, corresponding and meeting with Nigerian, Ghanian and American government officials (including an unnamed Member of Congress who at the time sat on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection) all for the purpose of persuading these persons to take steps to support iGate's business ventures in Africa.

Count 4 alleges that defendant solicited bribes from Lori Mody, an Alexandria, Virginia-based businesswoman, to promote the business interests in Africa of Mody's African companies IBBS and W2-IBBS. Specifically, the Indictment alleges that defendant introduced Mody to Jackson as a potential investor in iGate's telecommunications technology. After Mody and Jackson entered into an investment agreement, defendant allegedly requested payments from Mody, in the form of (i) fees, (ii) shares in W2-IBBS, and (iii) monthly payments to defendant's family members. In return for these payments, defendant allegedly advanced Mody's business interests by, inter alia, corresponding and meeting with Nigerian, Ghanian, and

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American government officials to persuade them to take steps in support of Mody's business ventures.

At issue here is the legal sufficiency of these bribery counts. Defendant contends that the counts must be dismissed because they fail to allege any “official acts," an essential element of a bribery charge. The government contends that the counts are sufficient. The matter has been fully briefed and argued and is now ripe for disposition.

II.

An indictment is legally sufficient if (i) it contains the elements of the offense charged and informs the defendant of the charges he must meet, and (ii) it identifies the offense conduct with sufficient specificity to allow the defendant to plead double jeopardy should there be a later prosecution based on the same facts. Russell v. United States, 369 U.S. 749, 763-64, 82 S.Ct. 1038, 8 L.Ed.2d 240 (1962). The second prong of this sufficiency inquiry is not in issue here; there is no dispute that the Indictment is “a plain, concise, and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged" as required by Rule 7(c)(1), Fed.R.Crim.P. Nor is there any dispute that the Indictment identifies the offense conduct with ample specificity. What is sharply disputed is the first prong of the legal sufficiency inquiry, namely whether the facts alleged satisfy each of the requisite statutory elements of a bribery offense.

Analysis of this question properly begins with an examination of the statutory language that defines the charged violation. Counts 3 and 4 charge defendant with bribery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(A), which states, in pertinent part:

“Whoever, being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act [shall be guilty of an offense]."

An indictment charging bribery must therefore allege each of the following elements: (i) that the defendant is a public official, and (ii) that defendant corruptly demanded, sought, received, accepted, or agreed to receive or accept (iii) anything of value (iv) in return for being influenced in the performance of...

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