Washington Report

Updates from Capitol Hill

Former CBC Member to Appeal Prison Sentencing



William Jefferson, the Louisiana representative who lost his seat last year after being indicted on bribery and racketeering charges, will remain free on bail while he appeals the 13-year sentence he received last Friday. He was convicted in August of federal charges of bribery, racketeering, depriving citizens of honest service, and money laundering.

Does the time fit the crime or is this an example of disproportionate sentencing? Some people have questioned whether Jefferson, 62, got a fair deal given that other disgraced former lawmakers have received lighter sentences.

In 2006, former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham of California got eight years and four months after pleading guilty to accepting $2.8 million in bribes from defense contractors, the highest sentence ever given a former member of Congress.

Now Jefferson, nicknamed Dollar Bill because of $90,000 found in his freezer during a 2005 raid on his house, holds that record. The prosecution had asked for a minimum sentence of 27 years, while Jefferson’s defense attorneys had hoped for no more than 10.

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