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Former US congressman sentenced to 13 years in jail

A US judge has levied a 13-year jail sentence on former congressman William Jefferson for corruption that involved US companies and countries across a wide swathe of Africa.

world Updated: Nov 14, 2009 08:53 IST

A US judge has levied a 13-year jail sentence on former congressman William Jefferson for corruption that involved US companies and countries across a wide swathe of Africa.

Jefferson was found guilty in August of seeking and collecting bribes for his personal business interests after police found $90,000 stored in his home freezer.

Federal Judge TS Ellis III on Friday made the ruling in US federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, across the Potomac River from where Jefferson served 18 years in the US House of Representatives.

Jefferson lost his seat in the November 2008 elections, turned out by Louisiana voters turned off by his indictment on charges of bribery, money laundering and racketeering.

In August, he was convicted on 11 of 16 counts.

In a 2005 FBI raid on his home, agents found $90,000 in his freezer, wrapped in foil and hidden inside frozen food packaging. Jefferson claimed that the $90,000 was the FBI's money that he was to give to the Nigerian vice president."

Prosecutors charged that Jefferson collected bribes of more than $400,000 from US companies from 2000 to 2005 to feather his own accounts and his family's nest through a special company set up to accept the bribes.

In exchange for the bribes, Jefferson allegedly led official business delegations to Africa in ventures that included telecommunications deals in Nigeria and Ghana; oil concessions in Equatorial Guinea; satellite transmission contracts in Botswana; offshore rights in Sao Tome and Principe; promotion and sale of waste recycling systems in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea; and development of a sugar plant in Nigeria.