Sometimes the higher a man rises, the deeper he falls. Such is the saga of former Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, who checked into a federal prison in Texas on May 4 for the next 13 years. It’s the longest sentence ever handed down to a member of Congress.
Jefferson, 65, was convicted in 2009 of accepting bribes in exchange for using his influence in Congress to promote a business venture in Western Africa. During its investigation, the FBI found $90,000 in cash wrapped in aluminum foil in the freezer of his Washington, D.C., home. During his 2005 trial, prosecutors showed videos of Jefferson taking money from a business associate who, unbeknownst to him, had become an FBI informant. Jefferson lost a plea for a new trial in March of this year.
Though his life began in one of the nation’s poorest regions, Louisiana’s East Carroll Parish, Jefferson overcame those circumstances by earning a degree from Harvard’s prestigious law school and, WWWL.AM reports, “soon became a mover and shaker in Louisiana politics.”
"In his prime, he was one of the stars of the Louisiana legislature, became very powerful," one source told the radio station. "[He] became the first Black congressman from Louisiana, and was a real power not only locally in New Orleans but statewide."
The nine-term congressman must serve a little over 11 years of his sentence, which means he won’t experience freedom again before he turns 76. His attorneys are reportedly planning to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)