Correction to This Article
A May 9 article misspelled the last name of Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Va. Woman Wore a Wire In Rep. Jefferson Inquiry

Vernon L. Jackson, owner of iGate Inc., pleaded guilty to charges that he bribed Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) to promote his firm in Africa.
Vernon L. Jackson, owner of iGate Inc., pleaded guilty to charges that he bribed Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) to promote his firm in Africa. (By Caleb Jones -- Associated Press)
By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 9, 2006

A wary Northern Virginia investor agreed to cooperate with the FBI in a public corruption investigation of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) and wear a "wire while engaged in face-to-face meetings with the Congressman," according to a court document filed yesterday.

The woman also recorded telephone conversations, as did the FBI through court-authorized wiretaps, the document said. The woman is identified only as a "cooperating witness" in the document, but people familiar with the case previously have identified her as Lori Mody, 42.

The disclosures provided new insights into the mounting case against Jefferson. In the past few months, two people have pleaded guilty to bribing the eight-term congressman to promote iGate Inc., a Kentucky-based high-tech company that sought broadband business in Africa.

Jefferson, 59, has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing. His office declined to comment yesterday. His lawyer, Robert P. Trout of Washington, did not return a phone message left at his office.

The latest information, cited from a sealed affidavit, surfaced in a ruling yesterday from U.S. Magistrate Judge William Connelly in Greenbelt. The judge agreed to unseal most of the affidavit for a search warrant executed Aug. 3 at the Potomac home of Jennifer Douglas, a wife of Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubaker.

The judge ruled that the affidavit would be unsealed Thursday unless someone appeals his ruling. The Washington Post had filed a motion to unseal the affidavit. Jefferson's attorneys opposed it, saying the release would "taint him for life and the harm done will not be remedied by the decision of a grand jury not to indict."

The judge stopped short of releasing the entire affidavit, saying he would unseal information including Mody's recordings, but not the court-authorized wiretaps.

The ruling is the first public document to mention Jefferson by name in the ongoing inquiry. Previous court documents in the two guilty pleas referred to "Representative A."

The judge noted that "Congressman Jefferson is a target of" an inquiry and is being investigated for allegedly committing several crimes including bribery, a scheme to defraud, wire fraud and "bribery of a foreign official," the document said.

The judge did not mention any link between Jefferson and the Nigerian vice president in his ruling. But law enforcement authorities, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is ongoing, said investigators were scrutinizing business dealings between Jefferson and Abubaker. The Nigerian Embassy did not return several calls seeking comment.

Jefferson, concerned about an iGate business deal falling through in Nigeria, sent a letter on official House stationery to Abubaker and met with him July 18 at his Potomac home, where the search warrant was executed, according to a court document filed last week in the case of Vernon L. Jackson.

Jackson, owner of Louisville-based iGate, pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson to promote his broadband technology for Internet and cable television in Africa. In January, Brett Pfeffer, a former Jefferson aide, who was looking for investments for Mody, pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson.

Mody, the court document indicates, "was defrauded out of $3.5 million by persons connected to the case," the document said. Mody, who has declined to comment in the past, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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