Plea Expected In Bribe Case

By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

A Kentucky businessman is scheduled to plead guilty today to giving Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to promote his high-tech business ventures in Africa, according to court records and people familiar with the case.

Vernon L. Jackson, owner of Louisville-based iGate Inc., is scheduled to enter the plea before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, according to a court docket. Jackson would become the second person to plead guilty in the inquiry of the New Orleans congressman. Jefferson, 58, has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.

In January, Brett M. Pfeffer, 37, a former Jefferson aide, pleaded guilty to bribing his ex-boss. Pfeffer worked for a wealthy Northern Virginia woman who invested in Jackson's company, iGate, which was trying to sell Internet and cable television service to Nigeria and Ghana. Pfeffer told a federal judge that Jefferson demanded a stake in the business in exchange for using his influence in Africa to promote iGate's technology.

Michael S. Nachmanoff, a federal public defender who is representing Jackson, declined to comment last night, as did Jefferson's press secretary, Melanie Roussell.

Jefferson, Louisiana's first black congressman since Reconstruction, is a co-chairman of the congressional Africa Trade and Investment Caucus.

Researcher Karl Evanzz contributed to this report.

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