Ex-congressman Bill Jefferson gets sentence reduced to time served

December 01, 2017 - 10:51 am

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- A former congressman convicted nearly a decade ago on bribery charges after he was famously caught with $90,000 cash stashed in his freezer had his sentence reduced Friday to time served.  

The resentencing hearing in federal court for William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, reduces his sentence from 13 years to five.  

The reduced sentence came on the joint recommendation of prosecutors and defense attorneys in the aftermath of a Supreme Court ruling that makes it more difficult to convict public officials on bribery charges. Jefferson was freed from prison last month after the judge tossed out seven of 10 conviction counts against Jefferson in the wake of the high court ruling.  

U.S. Senior Judge T. S. Ellis III had the option to impose a stiffer sentence but did not.  

Jefferson, 70, did not address the court during the hearing but told reporters afterward he's grateful to his lawyers, family and friends for their support and that he wants to be active in the community. He exchanged hugs with family members and friends who congratulated him on his freedom.  

As for his plans, Jefferson said ``I'm going to go back home and get a Christmas dinner.''  

Asked if he was angry to have served five years in prison only to have the law on which he was convicted change, he said, ``I don't have time to be angry with anything.''  

Asked if he feels he did anything wrong, he declined to comment.  

Jefferson was convicted of accepting more than $400,000 in bribes and seeking millions more in exchange for brokering business deals in Africa. The 2005 raid of his Washington home that turned up cash stuffed in frozen food boxes made him fodder for late-night comedians.  

At his 2009 trial, Jefferson argued that he was acting as a private business consultant in brokering the deals and that his actions did not constitute bribery under federal law.  

The $90,000 cash was actually part of a government sting initiated after a one-time business associate of Jefferson approached the FBI after she felt she was getting scammed.  

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