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Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 03/26/2012

Former Rep. William Jefferson’s conviction upheld by federal court


Former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) leaves the Albert V. Bryan Courthouse in Alexandria, with his wife, Andrea, and daughters after being convicted on 11 of 16 counts in August 2009. (Kevin Wolf - AP)
Former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) lost an appeal Monday to overturn his 2009 conviction on several bribery charges.

The case earned national attention when investigators found $90,000 in bribe money stuffed into the freezer of his Washington home. A legal battle over the raid of his Washington office also reached the highest levels of the U.S. government.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond unanimously upheld 10 of the 11 charges against Jefferson. A three-judge panel dismissed one wire- fraud charge, ruling that the federal court in Alexandria where Jefferson was convicted was not an appropriate venue to charge him for a phone call he made from Africa to an individual in Kentucky.

“Representative Jefferson could have been — and perhaps yet could be — prosecuted on Count 10 in the district in Kentucky where his phone call was received,” the judges wrote. “If the call had originated domestically (rather than in Africa), he might also have been prosecuted in the district from which the phone call had been made.”

Overall, the judges wrote that they upheld the other convictions because there was “an ongoing course of illicit and repugnant conduct by Jefferson — conduct for which he was compensated considerably by those on whose behalf he was acting.”

Jefferson, 65, is poised to serve a 13-year prison sentence, but it is unclear when he would begin serving time. His attorney, Robert P. Trout, had no comment on the ruling.

In a statement, Neil H. MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said “We’re pleased the Fourth Circuit saw this case for what it was – illicit and repugnant conduct by a Congressman who repeatedly sold his office to enrich himself and his family.”

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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