- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Louisiana congressman was more than $60,000 in debt during the time he is accused of concocting a series of bribery schemes.

Opening statements started Tuesday in the trial of William Jefferson, a Democrat who represented parts of New Orleans. Federal agents found $90,000 in cash in his freezer, and he is charged with soliciting bribes, money laundering and other crimes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lytle suggested that Jefferson’s debts may have motivated him to seek bribes. In addition to $62,000 in credit card debt, Lytle said Jefferson and his wife had about $40,000 in bounced check fees and other penalties on their bank accounts.

The defense is scheduled to give its opening statement in the afternoon. The trial is expected to last about a month.

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