When an Alexandria jury found ex-Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana guilty on 11 of 16 corruption counts Wednesday afternoon, Jefferson still had something positive to look forward to: after serving his possibly 20-year prison sentence, he'd come home to that $400,000+ pile of bribe money he accepted! Maybe it was worth it after all?
Well, scrap that.
His trial jury convened before the judge one last time Thursday to celebrate all the laughs and tears they'd had together over the past six weeks, with a punch 'n' pie party. Also, they had to decide if Jefferson would have to, you know... return the insane amount of illegal money he took.
William Jefferson, the former Democratic congressman convicted of 11 of 16 counts of corruption, can be held liable to forfeit more than $470,000 in bribe money paid to sham companies under his family's control, a jury ruled Thursday, one day after convicting him.
It probably didn't help Jefferson's case when his lawyer, Mark Trout, started spewing obnoxious, patronizing nonsense and insulting the intelligence of everyone within a half-mile radius.
[U.S. Attorney Mark] Lytle went first, followed by Trout, who said that much of the money the government wanted to seize were from legitimate business transactions related to deals the congressman was pursuing in West Africa, deals that were in part an expression of his "passion for Africa."
That line, and the attempt to once again put an admirable face on a man the government, and now the jury Trout was addressing, had condemned as relentlessly corrupt, clearly rankled the low-key Lytle.
"This man's passion for Africa was for sale, " said Lytle, in a tart rebuttal. "He only had a passion for Africa if people paid him to have a passion for Africa."