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Page last updated at 22:58 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 23:58 UK

Ex-US lawmaker guilty of bribery

Former Louisiana Rep William Jefferson walks to federal court in Alexandria, Virginia
The former Congressman had been under investigation since 2005

A former US Congressman who was caught by FBI agents with $90,000 (£53,000) in his freezer has been found guilty of bribery and money laundering.

William Jefferson, a Democrat who had represented parts of New Orleans, was accused of accepting more than $400,000 (£235,000) in bribes.

The 62-year-old was also accused of trying to get millions more for brokering deals in Africa.

It took jurors five days to convict him on 11 out of the 16 charges.

After an eight-week trial, Jefferson was found not guilty of obstruction of justice charges, according to Louisiana television station WWLTV. The former Congressman was not taken into custody.

Pie boxes

Jefferson's defence argued that he was acting as a private business consultant in making the deals and that he was not guilty of bribery under federal law.

But prosecutors said he had disguised his bribes as consulting fees and put the money through fake companies controlled by his wife and brother.

He had been under investigation since the spring of 2005.

In August that year, FBI agents found the money in his freezer, wrapped in foil and hidden in boxes of pie crust.

Jefferson rejected a claim by the prosecution that the money in the freezer was linked to bribery.

In Congress since 1991, Jefferson narrowly lost his re-election bid in 2008 to a Republican attorney who became the first Vietnamese American in the House of Representatives.



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