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Oilman Testifies That Jefferson Wanted Money for His Brother Up Front

The theme throughout this case has been that then-Rep. William Jefferson tried to make sure his family got a slice of pie. In this case, he tried to make sure his brother Mose got plenty of money.

The Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

The Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

By Jonathan Tilove and Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — In January 2002, Louisiana oil entrepreneur John Melton presented then-Rep. William Jefferson with an agreement promising to give Jefferson’s brother, Mose, 3 percent of any profits from oil, fertilizer and other deals Melton was pursuing with the congressman’s help in Nigeria, according to testimony Wednesday.

“He looked at it and dropped it on his desk (and said), ‘This won’t do,’ ” Melton said at the nine-term Democrat’s corruption trial. Jefferson wanted money for his brother up front, Melton said. After a tense discussion, Jefferson asked Melton to walk him back from the meeting at Melton’s office on Poydras Street to Jefferson’s office, a block away in the Hale Boggs Building.

On the way, Melton said he sought to reassure Jefferson.

“You have my word I will maintain your brother’s interest in these projects,” Melton said he told Jefferson. “As the words came out, I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if the FBI could have any kind of listening device?’ ”

With that, Judge T.S. Ellis III cut Melton short, telling the jury to disregard what it had just heard.

The FBI was not listening, though Melton’s concern was not misplaced. As the jurors know, Lori Mody, a cooperating witness for the FBI, taped her conversations with Jefferson from March to August 2005, and those tapes have formed the core of the government’s corruption charges against Jefferson.

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