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Key Witness in Cong. William Jefferson Case Gets Substantial Reduction in Sentence for Cooperating

Jefferson stands next to attorney Robert Trout during sentencing /Sketch by Art Lien/NBC News
Jefferson stands next to attorney Robert Trout during sentencing /Sketch by Art Lien/NBC News

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A key prosecution witness in the public corruption trial of ex-Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson, could be seeing daylight soon.

As expected, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III of Alexandria, Va., in a written filing on Dec. 11 substantially cut the sentence of key witness Vernon Jackson from 87 to 40 months. The government had asked that the judge cut the sentence by 50 percent.

Jackson, 57, owner of a high-tech, Kentucky-based business called iGate, had pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson in exchange for the Congressman’s help promoting business in Africa.

As part of the guilty plea, Jackson agreed to cooperate and ended up delivering some key testimony during the summer trial that resulted in Jefferson being convicted on 11 of 16 counts of public corruption.

Jackson is currently being held in a federal prison in Morgantown, W. Va. and should be out early next year. The reduction was first reported by reporter Bruce Alpert  in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The judge is soon expected to also substantially cut the 8-year sentence of anotheer key witness Brett Pfeffer, a former Jefferson aide, who had pleaded guilty to bribing the Congressman.

Judge Ellis sentenced Jefferson in November to 13 years in prison, the harshest sentence ever given to a member of Congress for a corruption conviction. The judge is allowing Jefferson to remain free pending an appeal.


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