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Etch-a-Sketch: William 'Dollar Bill' Jefferson Edition

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:

This is a day the Sketchwriter has been awaiting for years. William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, the former congressman from New Orleans, is going on trial over that "alleged" bribery scheme. I say "alleged" because that's the convention in these cases, and of course he is innocent until proven guilty. But Jefferson has a couple of tricky things to explain away:

  • Why he was filmed by the FBI accepting a briefcase containing $100,000 from an FBI informant and putting the briefcase in the trunk of his car at the Pentagon City mall.
  • Why $90,000 of that money was found by the FBI in the freezer of his Capitol Hill apartment, in small bundles disguised as leftovers.

But Sketchreaders are a wily and crafty bunch. Your challenge today: Imagine a scenario under which one or both of the above facts can be explained as a perfectly innocent misunderstanding. Your best ideas will be presented to defense lawyers tomorrow on page A2 of The Washington Post.

With thanks,

The William Jefferson Legal Defense Fund

Update, 12:21 p.m.: The judge has recessed for lunch, so we'll have to wait until 1:15 to see how Jefferson's lawyer is going to explain the cold cash in his opening argument. But there was a key development this morning: Prosecutors flashed pictures of the frozen food containers that hid the $90,000. Most prominent were a Pillsbury Pie Crusts box (with the little dough-boy) and Boca Burgers.

Boca Burgers? Should we anticipate the Vegetarian Defense?

By Dana Milbank  | June 16, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Etch-a-Sketch  
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Comments

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/11/2595130.htm?section=justin

I can only think of a recent news story from Israel. A woman decided to surprise her dear Mom with a fresh new mattress, which was installed while Mom was out of the house. She came home and, rather than rejoicing, was horrified. Money to impress even a Jefferson had been crammed into the mattress.

Congressman Jefferson must live in a similar world.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 16, 2009 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Entrapment. If someone tried to give you a briefcase full of cash would you refuse? What was the "official act" he did in return? He doesn't relinquish his right to work as a consultant just because he is in Congress(he might, i don't really know). The feds waved 100k in his face and all he did was prove he is human. He didn't even spend it. He borrowed 10k and left the rest in the freezer.

Posted by: Mauckjw | June 16, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

He was a victim of circumstance. The money in the freezer "just got that way." The FBI film used an advanced technique to replace an actor's face with the defendant's. The informant was a paid stooge. Lady dog set him up.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | June 16, 2009 2:00 AM | Report abuse

No mystery here. In the tradition of John Murtha, the unindicted co-conspirator of Arab Scam, Jefferson was conducting his own investigation of FBI agents trying to bribe members of Congress. He put the money in his freezer to preserve the fingerprints and other marks that the FBI had made on the currency bundles after thoughtfully pre-paying his electricity bill for five years in advance.

Posted by: hisroc | June 16, 2009 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Jefferson, a fiscal conservative, was just trying to set an example for his constituents by eschewing the credit card and instead using only 'cold cash', in this case, frozen c-notes. And, a devout Christian, Jefferson simply mistook the FBI guys as Good Samaritans offering to help him in his fight against 'the deficit'. All totally innocent behavior, I have no doubt.

Posted by: ctenwith | June 16, 2009 3:14 AM | Report abuse

And how did the FBI know that the money was in the freezer? Were they spying on Jefferson? In recent years the FBI has tried to entrap a number of Democrats, particularly those of color. I hope Obama's DOJ will restore the justice in our justice system.

Posted by: clg238 | June 16, 2009 3:27 AM | Report abuse

Greed is a disease, like obesity, drug abuse, or alcoholism. It only SEEMS like people have a choice.

It's greatly aggravated when someone becomes a politician. It's a hazard of the trade - they can't help it.

Term limits is the cure.

Posted by: postfan1 | June 16, 2009 4:36 AM | Report abuse

He has the disease monephorgis...i.e., he eats money. His sordid monephorgic buddies gave him the "food." He needs a 12 step program, not a prison sentence.

Posted by: pdurand | June 16, 2009 4:37 AM | Report abuse

Clearly Rep. Jefferson was asute enough to forsee the impending financial system collapse and was converting his stock holdings to "cold hard cash" to avoid losing 30-40% of his 401K savings like the rest of us.

Posted by: mandeljs | June 16, 2009 5:42 AM | Report abuse

Jefferson mistook the cash as money intended for Halliburton/KBR for their oustanding electrical work in Iraq?

Posted by: jama452 | June 16, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

First question: He was simply a civil servant doing his duty... What happens to an agencies budget when money is unspent? (the agency has it's budget reduced the next fiscal year). It was just being held at his residence for safekeeping.
Second Question: Due to the physical properties of materials, cryogenically freezing legal tender seemed like the only ways to offset the impending shrinking value. The packaging was meant only to sort the amounts (i.e. large bills in pork packaging). The missing $10,000 was the loss in value between the time he received it, and made it home to the freezer.

Posted by: nonag | June 16, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

They have it all backwards. He was actually filming the FBI trying to bribe him. The money in the freezer is his proof. $10,000 is but a pittance to pay for his noble sacrifice.

Posted by: worf | June 16, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I humbly suggest that it all depends on what your definition of "is" is."

Posted by: bmschumacher | June 16, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

The explanation is really quite simple.

Rep. Jefferson had earlier received an email from His Royal Majesty Chike Ubah of Nigeria. Dr. Ubah had inherited a great deal of money from his father (who had recently died from protracted diabetes). But before his death Dr. Ubah's father informed him that he lodged some funds in boxes with a security firm with an open beneficiary and he then advised Dr. Ubah
to look for a reliable business partner abroad to assist Dr. Ubah in investing the money in a lucrative business as a result of economic instability in Nigeria.

Now, Rep. Jefferson certainly had a legitimate interest in furthering US/Nigerian relations - and an interest in obtaining potential foreign stimulus money to apply to business opportunities that would benefit his constituents.

Now, due to Dr. Ubah's political ambitions within Nigeria ,he had hoped to work directly with a trusted individual capable of acting with the appropriate discretion. After an exhaustive search, it was clear to Dr. Ubah that Rep. Jefferson had precisely the qualities needed for this transaction. [Reports of other US citizens being approached via email by Dr. Ubah are thoroughly without merit.]

Rep. Jefferson assumed that FBI informant was an associate of Dr. Ubah - and invested the money in the most appropriate fashion given his current US stock market analysis.

Dr. Ubah has indicated via email his intention to meet with Rep. Jefferson - once that happens this whole situation will be cleared up.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | June 16, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

What bribe money? Those were simply his "frozen assets."

Posted by: Shift_lock | June 16, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Jefferson was in fact preparing for his role in a new TV reality-based series, "Cold Cash", to be run in the fall on CBS Sunday evenings following "Cold Case." The money was to be given away to the unsuspecting recipients as packets of frozen food that you get from companies such as Schwann's (I think that's their name). Anyway, CBS wanted the whole thing kept hush-hush until airtime, which is why Jefferson agreed to discreetly take the money in a brief case in a mall parking lot. The FBI was in on it to ensure the secrecy. Simple, eh?

Posted by: jazzman48491 | June 16, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

First off, everyone must realize that it was an elaborate 'sting' operation.
FBI agents were offering bribes to members of Congress. Everybody knew about it, Jefferson thought to himself, but nobody was doing anything about it. But how to catch them and gather the needed evidence?
While watching back-to-back mini-marathons of "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files" on TV Land, the idea struck him like thunderbolt -- Jefferson would pose as a crooked congressman, obtain the loot, and expose the FBI agents for what they were doing.
He took copious notes from that Rockford Files episode where Rockford sets of a fake drilling platform at a resort as part of an elaborate sting to catch a crooked developer and return a stolen inheritance to Jill St. John.
First Step: Bill expenses of $10,000.
Second Step: Take the bribe.
Third Step: Reimburse self for the $10,000.
Fourth Step: Wait for call from Nobel Prize committee, who have created a new award to honor just this situation. In speech, be sure to give ample credit to legendary screenwriter Steven J. Cannell.
Fifth Step: Retire from politics with the self-satisfaction of a job well done.

Posted by: 1EgoNemo | June 16, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Rep. Jefferson suspected the money was counterfeit. It is well known that the glue in fake currency will fail in freezing temperatures. If it did, he would have reported those scoundrels to the Feds.

Posted by: GeneM | June 16, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

The $100,000 was for a memorial to the victims of hurricane Katrina. $10,000 has been spent on the papier-mâché model of a FEMA trailer, which has since been occupied by a family from Mississippi. The remaining $90,000 was waiting in the freezer for Hell to freeze over before the government gives a damn.

Posted by: jimward21 | June 16, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IS THIS:

it was jeffy who knocked-up palins daugther and not a-bigrod or letterman. next jeffy got cold feet and the instructions on the blue pills had warned him that if he had an erection lasting over 4 hours to put it in the freezer, but he was confused and instead of his weewee he deposited the $100.000 on cold ice near cubes.
as for the fbi, jeffy was tricked again because the feds told him that the money was to pay for the legal defense of vice prez. cheney when he goes before the worldcourt in the netherlands for waterboarding!
i ask u fellow americans do we have a great country or not??

Posted by: willemkraal | June 16, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Representative Jefferson was simply doing some research. For too long now, Congress has voted for programs for which there was no funding. The members of the Senate and House knew this, but proceeded anyway to pass the legislation.

Enter William Jefferson with only the purest motives. He was trying to learn about paying bills not with credit, but with "cold, hard cash", and thought that putting actual currency into a freezer would allow him to understand this complicated concept. We should be grateful to him for his dedication.

Posted by: j24w | June 16, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I don't know what excuse Mr. Jefferson plans to use, but my grandmother used to hide her cash in a coffee bag in the freezer. Better than a safe. My grandfather used to say that he only dealt in cold, hard cash.

Posted by: IndependenceDame | June 16, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Since 10% of the loot did not find its way into the freezer, it's obvious that Dollar Bill is a Ten-Percenter who was serving as an agent for a reputable client to whom the FBI informant was indebted. When he couldn't hook up with the "Real Recipient," a reclusive Cajun fellow from the back Bayou, Dollar Bill collected his own 10% & placed the remainder in his freezer for safekeeping.

Jefferson was actively looking for the "Real Recipient" when crooked FBI agents invaded his Washington apartment (think O.J. in Vegas), & stole his client's money at gunpoint. This would never have happened had the Supremes acted more expeditiously to repeal the D.C. gun law so that Dollar Bill could have warded off the home invaders with a legal arsenal.

Now that Jefferson no longer has a day job, he had hoped to devote more time to finding the "Real Recipient," but this trial thing has proved a distraction. If the court will kindly dismiss the bogus charges, Dollar Bill will get back to his earnest search. Should the court be uncooperative, Dollar Bill's attorneys will encourage jury nullification: "If our story ain't s--t, you must acquit."

The Constant Weader at RealityChex.com

Posted by: marieburns | June 16, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

He had just returned from the baseball steroid hearings and mis-remembered

Posted by: dboston | June 16, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

FYIColumbiaMD has got hold of part of it - but has underestimated Jefferson's street smarts.

The Nigerian scam he recognized at once - a young person of his acquaintance (family? aide?) had told him of it. He intended to notify the proper authorites, but was unclear who that might be. While he was mulling this point, a phone call arrived from the FDIC (very senior person, very hush-hush) about their concerns that his bank manager was skimming from the bailout money. The FDIC needed his help.

As a congressman, Jefferson was in an ideal position, as he could pose as an agent of the government charged with delivering the next installment of bailout funds. It would be important to ensure that his banker, who might have other clients in Jefferson's office, on the floor of the House, etc., was not apprised of the actual origin of the money. Hence the dark of night transfer scheme. Naturally the FDIC was going to film the transfer, as a step in gathering the evidence against his banker.

Jefferson, thinking quickly, agreed, on the condition that his contact find out how he could ensure the investigation of the Nigerian scam. His caller was a bit taken aback, and said that was a different department, but he believed that if he increased the size of the bailout funds (by a factor of 10, to be on the safe side) and Jefferson held on to the remainder, his caller would get back to him on how to use the cash to best entrap the Nigerian scamster.

So - Jefferson handed over the $10,000 to his bank manager, pretending to accept the manager's word that no receipt was required. As far as he knows this transfer was also taped, possibly by the bank's own security cameras, and when this tape is released, the clearing of his name will begin.

Meanwhile, he is still waiting for his caller to let him know how to use the remaining $90,000 to entrap the Nigerian scamster, and as he is often visited by young persons who might be tempted by the sight of loose cash, he hid it in the freezer. It is wrapped in packages small enough to be disguised as leftovers as it is well known that a young person scrounging for food will eat anything but leftovers.

Soon he will be recognised as a true crusader for honesty in bailouts and on the Internet!

Posted by: HelensGirlKid1 | June 16, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

WILLIAM JEFFERSON–
ENTRAPPED WHILE HELPING THE POOR

(WASHINGTON DC) Recently uncovered evidence conclusively proves that Congressman William Jefferson was entrapped by the FBI while accepting charitable donations for members of his impoverished New Orleans Congressional District.

Congressman Jefferson not only agreed to accept the $100,000 in cash donations to help the poor and needy suffering from the Hurricane devastation, but agreed to pick up the money personally at the Mall to ensure the money reached the right place.

Since the banks were destroyed in the Hurricane and many members did not have access to check cashing facilities, Congressman Jefferson not only personally accepted delivery of the cash, but he actually opened his home to store the cash in small leftover containers in his freezer.

“Why am I the victim of entrapment?” Congressman Jefferson asked.

“The FBI has video that I accepted the cash personally at the Mall for my constituents, but they are still persecuting me,” he continued.

“In New Orleans people have to have self respect and dignity.”

“They may have lost their homes, they may have lost their money, they may have lost loved ones.”

“But they have NEVER lost their dignity.”

“And when they need some cash help you have to put in a freezer bag disguised as food to preserve their self respect. For their dignity and self respect. Something the FBI just can’t understand.” Congressman Jefferson explained, as tears trickled down his face.

Posted by: JaxMax | June 16, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The FBI said, "Here's the dough." He put in the freezer until he had time to make cookies--for the children. It's all a big misunderstanding.

Posted by: mrclark92661 | June 16, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I mean, who would turn down a cool hundred grand? The guy just likes crisp bills. The only mystery here is what happened to the other ten grand.

Posted by: davestickler | June 16, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Was something like the following reported when the story originally broke? That he agreed to convey the money to some government official over in Africa (no doubt a bribe to that official) in return for a ten percent commission. If so, then yes, the money is a bribe, just not for the congressman. Of course, I'm fairly certain taking that much cash out of the country is an iffy proposition as is the notion of a member of congress acting as a bag man. It's just not bribery of the congressman himself.

Posted by: amacrae | June 16, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

He had $90,000 in his freezer because of that question he was asked. You know, that question, that gets everyone in hot water these days, the, "do you believe in same sex marriage?" Yes, he antiipated that his answer would be a damned if he did and a damned if he didn't, so, he decided, to put the money in his freezer in case he found himself in hot water over that question.

Posted by: rannrann | June 16, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Now this is the most enjoyable set of commentaries I have ever read! Thank you all!

Richard Milhous Nixon would have split a gut reading this story. Now THIS is what newspapers should exist for. Good news and humor! Screw the bad news. William Jefferson Clinton -whoops, I meant just Bill Jefferson - has brought me more laughs than any barrel of congressional monkeys. He should get an immediate pardon if only for being so wonderful to our sensibilities!

Posted by: expat2MEX | June 16, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

CAST THE FIRST STONE–
CLOSING ARGUMENT OF WILLIAM JEFFERSON

Paperwork......paperwork..... (let a piece of paper float to the ground)

Thats all the FBI has–Congressman Jefferson did not complete a bunch of Govt paperwork before accepting $100,000 in cash for the poor in his district.

Think about the poor in New Orleans.

Even before the Hurricane they were broke.

And when you are dead broke $50 or $100 can mean the difference between eating THAT NIGHT or going hungry.

Govt programs are supposed to help.

But has any Govt program ever worked without a bunch of Govt paperwork, forms, wait in line, wait for the check.

You can find Jefferson guilty for accepting the cash for his people.

You can punish him for packaging the money in his freezer in food boxes to save the dignity and self respect of the poor.

You can cast the first stone.

But before you throw the stone, remember the members of his District who had received cash money from Congressman Jefferson.

Money when they were broke......

money when they were hungry.......

Money so they can eat tonight–NOT when Govt paperwork is done.

You can throw the first stone.

But if you do save some.

Save a stone for Pelosi and Reid and Obama (show pictures on screen)..........who handed out Billions not just $10,000 to some of the richest corporations in America in the “stimulus”

Oh, but those corporations did the paperwork.(simiulated dropping paper)

And Congressman Jefferson..................his Congressional constituents...

Well they were just too poor...

They were just too desperate......

They were just too black.


Posted by: JaxMax | June 16, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully he will also have a frozen box for Eggos...so we can joyfully report from the FBI transcript "Leggo my eggos!" full of hundred dollar bills!

Booty-filled Boca Burgers?
No Lean Cuisine there...

Posted by: engineermom | June 16, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Both Boca Burgers and money are high in fiber. Maybe the guy was just trying to keep regular, ok?

Posted by: Meg111982 | June 16, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Representative Jefferson is just going Green.

Or perhaps, Jefferson's doctor told him to eat more green,leafy foods to improve his health. There are so many leftovers because frankly the newer bills taste funny and are difficult to digest. [Then the lawyers can hand out wasds of cash for the jurors to 'eat' at a later time.]

Posted by: nsuits | June 16, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

As far as the money in the freezer goes, the solution is obvious. We use the phrase "put money in" to describe investing (as in, "I put my money in GE"). Clearly, by putting money in those food boxes, Rep. Jefferson thought he was investing in the food services companies that produce those goods, and he is probably quite surprised that the amount in the boxes is still just $90,000, since the whole point of investing is to earn interest. Or perhaps he's just glad he didn't lose anything.

Posted by: tberg | June 16, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Here's the answer Rep Jefferson is an unwitting victim of a Nigerian scam. The problem is a situation of appearance; his actions give the appearance of a conflict of interest, or even worse, a willingness to accept a bribe. It appears on the video tape that Mr. Jefferson accepted money from what is reported to be an FBI confidant and obviously the video cannot be denied. However, Mr. Jefferson thought he was getting a remarkable deal on some Nigerian artifacts. Obviously when he got home and realized that he must have received the wrong briefcase he panicked and did what any respectable citizen would do he placed the unwanted money in his freezer until he could collect his thoughts. He gave $10,000 to a Nigerian lawyer as a retainer fee to try and remedy the situation. Certainly, Rep. Jefferson’s character is beyond reproach, a man who violated House ethics rules in failing to report three trips to Botswana aimed at convincing him to oppose limits on “blood diamond” imports into the U.S, or the man who delayed two heavy National Guard trucks, a helicopter and several National Guard members for over an hour while he went back into his house to retrieve "a laptop computer, three suitcases and a box about the size of a small refrigerator during the Katrina evacuation would not even think of taking a bribe. It’s the Nigerians!

Posted by: jonpark55 | June 16, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's the answer Rep Jefferson is an unwitting victim of a Nigerian scam. The problem is a situation of appearance; his actions give the appearance of a conflict of interest, or even worse, a willingness to accept a bribe. It appears on the video tape that Mr. Jefferson accepted money from what is reported to be an FBI confidant and obviously the video cannot be denied. However, Mr. Jefferson thought he was getting a remarkable deal on some Nigerian artifacts. Obviously when he got home and realized that he must have received the wrong briefcase he panicked and did what any respectable citizen would do he placed the unwanted money in his freezer until he could collect his thoughts. He gave $10,000 to a Nigerian lawyer as a retainer fee to try and remedy the situation. Certainly, Rep. Jefferson’s character is beyond reproach, a man who violated House ethics rules in failing to report three trips to Botswana aimed at convincing him to oppose limits on “blood diamond” imports into the U.S, or the man who delayed two heavy National Guard trucks, a helicopter and several National Guard members for over an hour while he went back into his house to retrieve "a laptop computer, three suitcases and a box about the size of a small refrigerator during the Katrina evacuation would not even think of taking a bribe. It’s the Nigerians!

Posted by: jonpark55 | June 16, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Here's the answer Rep Jefferson is an unwitting victim of a Nigerian scam. The problem is a situation of appearance; his actions give the appearance of a conflict of interest, or even worse, a willingness to accept a bribe. It appears on the video tape that Mr. Jefferson accepted money from what is reported to be an FBI confidant and obviously the video cannot be denied. However, Mr. Jefferson thought he was getting a remarkable deal on some Nigerian artifacts. Obviously when he got home and realized that he must have received the wrong briefcase he panicked and did what any respectable citizen would do he placed the unwanted money in his freezer until he could collect his thoughts. He gave $10,000 to a Nigerian lawyer as a retainer fee to try and remedy the situation. Certainly, Rep. Jefferson’s character is beyond reproach, a man who violated House ethics rules in failing to report three trips to Botswana aimed at convincing him to oppose limits on “blood diamond” imports into the U.S, or the man who delayed two heavy National Guard trucks, a helicopter and several National Guard members for over an hour while he went back into his house to retrieve "a laptop computer, three suitcases and a box about the size of a small refrigerator during the Katrina evacuation would not even think of taking a bribe. It’s the Nigerians!

Posted by: jonpark55 | June 16, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"Why $90,000 of that money was found by the FBI in the freezer of his Capitol Hill apartment, in small bundles disguised as leftovers."

Mr Jefferson is a financial whiz who, in 2007, foresaw the coming financial tumult and wisely did what most of us now wish we had done - secured his assests in the form of cash in a safe place. He is a financial genius who should be emulated and appointed to an important Treasury post, not prosecuted. He put the money in small bundles in his freezer because he recognized that large bundles of cash in his freezer would have looked suspicious.

Posted by: CJMiva | June 16, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Jefferson has learned that the prison system in the U.S. needs reforming. But to do meaningful reform, it is first necessary to gather data on what the conditions are really like on the inside. Being a really smart person, he knows if he merely visits prisons he won’t get the inside scoop. And he also knows the FBI is trying to entrap members of Congress with bribes. He decides that he must accept a bribe to be convicted and sent to prison. But he also knows that it wouldn’t work if he didn’t make it look real. He also knows that if all of the $100,000 were recovered, he might get parole and not get time in the big house. As he knows the life in prison will be Spartan, he spends $10,000 on a night on the town. Now he has set the conditions to allow him to investigate prisons from the inside.

After spending a month behind bars and gathering all of the inside information, he will call the prosecutor and say, “Ha! Ha! It was all just a ruse to get me inside prison!” The prosecutor will immediately realize what has happened and will rush back to court to get the conviction reversed. Now Mr. Jefferson will return to Congress where he will be recognized as a brilliant lawmaker. He will introduce the William Jefferson Prison Reform Act of 2009 that will prohibit prisons from serving bologna sandwiches more than five times a week.

Posted by: mtrobt | June 16, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Jefferson is very attentive to law enforcement's efforts to reduce crime. He has seen the many warnings issued by police that citizens should never leave valuables in plain sight in their cars. Expensive items such as a brief case are only invitations to thieves to break into the car and steal them. Conscious of these warnings, Mr. Jefferson took the sage advice of police and placed the briefcase in his car's trunk, where it would be safe and out of sight. Additionally, Mr. Jefferson, being a good church-going citizen, did not want to place temptation in front of his fellow congresspersons, who might be made of weaker moral fiber than Mr. Jefferson, and be tempted to steal.
Placing the $90,000 in the freezer offers clear proof that Mr. Jefferson had only the purest motives. If he had considered the money "dirty' or otherwise unfit for human consumption, he would have placed it in the washing machine. Besides, the toilet tank was being used for other stuff.

Posted by: hlabadie | June 16, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

A delivery of DiGiorno.

Posted by: jama452 | June 16, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Who among us hasn't mistaken $90,000 in cash for leftovers? Everyone here is so judgmental and quick to draw conclusions. So a congressman accepts a briefcase loaded with $100,000 in cash, what's the big deal? He's probably just a little sentimental and wants to collect a little US currency as a keepsake, as he is busy selling us out to the Chinese and the yen.

Posted by: bretb | June 16, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

He wanted to put the money in a bank but the funds were frozen.

Posted by: jjmsan | June 16, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Jefferson was obviously considering donating the money to the VFW, otherwise he would not have put the money in a box with Poppin' Fresh the Doughboy, veteran of WWI, on the lid.

Posted by: hlabadie | June 16, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

The FBI was knocked up" by Alex Rodriguez during the seventh inning stretch of a Yankees game.

Posted by: jama452 | June 16, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Well some lame brain beat me to the race card, infra, forget that the MSM would have sniffed that one out long ago; I think they would have, you would, wouldn't you?

OK, ok, try this one: this was really the first downpayment of TARP money. What do you mean Obama didn't start handing this out until 28 months after the bust? OK, ok, try this one: my spendthrift wife...., on the second thought, let's try this one: me and OJ think we have found a link between Nicole's killers and the bad seeds at the FBI. We set up this elaborate scheme to trap them both. Yeah, that's it. Let me try the glove on, if it doesn't fit, you can't convict me. So what if the DNA evidence shows there are only two people in the Western Hemisphere with the right DNA signature. Where's Kato at? He'll clear me.

Posted by: stvcar | June 16, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

It's a variation of the infamous Del Boca Vista condo bait and switch in conjunction wth the Boca Burgers box shell game which necessarily leads to the Congressmen are Immune from Any and All Crimes just like foreign diplomats so it's therefore a denial of equal protection and the coppers had no right to go into my freezer and the fruit of the poisonous tree is frozen, inedible and therefore inadmissible, now let me go.

Posted by: Patriot3 | June 16, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

When God dropped manna from heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness, did Moses jump up and say, "Hey, hold on there! There may be strings attached to this sudden windfall? God might want something in return?" No! Moses told the Israelites to dig in. Help themselves to as much as they could eat. The thing with manna is that it has an expiration date. You can't keep it beyond the pull-by date. But we have the advantages of modern refrigeration, and our bread can be put in the freezer where it will keep indefinitely.

In the words of the old Louisiana spiritual, "Ev'ry man a king , ev'ry man a king/ For you can be a millionaire." Now, the first step to being a millionaire is to be a thousandaire. And the next step is to be a ten thousandaire. And the next a hundred thousandaire. What if God decides to dump a a hundred thousand of bread on me? Should I look for strings? Never. That's ingratitude. The precepts of St. Huey P. Long apply today as they did in ancient times, "There's enough for all people to share."

Posted by: hlabadie | June 16, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Members of the FBI approached Mr. Jefferson, as a part of some self-directed therapy. They explained that they had an addiction--selfishly spending taxpayer money. They started this addiction after some friends at the Interior introduced them to it. When they saw their buddies losing control, they had to seek an honest, trustworthy politician to help kick this abuse of the green. This man was Mr. William Jefferson. "This is our department's discretionary budget. If you don't keep this money safe, we'll certainly blow it," one agent explained. The exchange had to be filmed, lest there be public doubts that the agents were determined to get clean.

Mr. Jefferson took the money from the FBI. Obviously, any good person would have to keep the agents' requests in the dark. Until they gave up this nasty habit, the agents could not know where the money was hidden. Mr. Jefferson knew they would come again to find the money. He recalled one agent discussing how much sodium was in frozen foods these days. The others unanimously agreed. The congressman thought they would never look in his cold, crispy Boca Burger boxes. When the addiction passed, he also figured he could tell his dinner guests an ol' "froze their assets" joke. In doing a good deed, however, Mr. Jefferson got iced.
Strung out, in desparate need of calf implants, one agent sought the money. He vowed to keep searching. After exhausting failures to find the money in Mr. Jefferson's Lehman Brothers portfolio, he went to a Capitol Hill apartment. Because of the profuse sweat from the withdrawl, we went right to the freezer. He discovered a cold $100,000 in cash. "What a coincidence," the agent later thought. After spending $10,000 for his leg-job, and arresting Mr. Jefferson for holding out on him, the agent returned the rest of the money for his friends back at headquarters. Sitting on a yacht, one of his buddies told him, "You've really been working on those legs." That, of course, is hearsay.

Posted by: jaysontischler | June 16, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

If Congressman Jefferson had just done more paperwork......he would have never been charged.

If Congressman Jefferspon just filled out more paperwork and took bribes in all the lEGAL ways-- like all the other members of Congress...by

1. Having his spouse or relative set up a lobbying company, then have the bribes funneled through the spouse lobbyist.

2. Requiring donations to his campaign funds, who then hire family members

3. Get paid Speaking fees for phone conversations

4. Write a worthless book and have it become a best seller and the copies buried...

You can NOT convict Congressman Jefferson.....while all these practices go on each and everyday in DC in broad daylight by all Congress.....

(PS---Millbank--Do NOT assume a GUILTY verdict)

Posted by: JaxMax | June 16, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

The tofu defense is like the Twinkie defense, only it's the soy that makes one crazy not the refined sugars and corn sweeteners.

Posted by: hlabadie | June 16, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

1. The FBI was paying him to work as an informer, but when the FBI learned that he didn't know anything about anyone they wanted to get their money back.

2. He was set up. He thought he was getting a garbage bag of blow. Wait...that's not any better.

3. He thought he was getting cash back after he refinanced his mortgage with Countrywide. He is simply a victim of the home mortgage mess.

4. Every Louisiana politician accepts money from a garbage bag at some point in their career. They call it "salary."

Posted by: sandvick1 | June 16, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

He should have plead out before trial. That would have been the rational thing to do.

This seems to be the 'my client is hopelessly guilty, and everyone knows it, so I'll throw whatever crap I can at the wall and see if any of it sticks' defense.

The only way this comedy could get any better is if they somehow had arrested him as he was running away leaving a trail of high denomination bills fluttering behind him. Or like if after Mrs. Mody passed him the case full of cash, the FBI remotely sprang the locks on it to have it tumble all over the ground.

I know that these law enforcement `operations' require a lot of meticulous planning, co-ordination, and diligence applied to the weighty legal ramifications of this sort of plan. It requires a lot of people and a lot of time. However, isn't there some opportunity for an entertainment budget? I'll grant that the dramatic potential has been fully met. This one has all the right dramatic elements, a crooked politician, a brilliant businesswoman, who's only 'fatal flaw' is that she trusts her government to deal with her honestly, and mysterious payoffs in countries most people can't find on a map. However, being serious folks those FBI, I think they may have slightly neglected the comedic potential of Dollar Bill's behavior even up until now.

I know I am highly amused at his defense for sure. This is SNL worthy material on the part of the defendant.

Posted by: timscanlon | June 17, 2009 5:16 AM | Report abuse

Wrong. All wrong. He was holding the money for his buddy Roland Burris who was giving it to Rod Blagojevich. Not complicated at all.

Posted by: kmitnick | June 17, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

"Pitney didn't share his specific question in advance with the White House."

This makes the whole premise of your story BS.

No comparison. You're jealous.

Posted by: fishingriver | June 23, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

It really wasn't about the cash at all. Mr Jefferson is very green and saw the opportunity to "repurpose" a briefcase which was going to be thrown away. Later, discovering all that cash, he repurposed it to take up empty space in his freezer so that the freezer would use less electricity. The aluminum foil was used to protect his frozen food and himself from the radiation emanating from the money which might affect his brain and induce him to want to spend it. Come on, give the guy a break.

Posted by: luce_sociator | June 24, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Hey dana, you are a dipsh@t. Can't hold a candle to real journalists like Froomkin and Pitney, but you make more money so I'm sure your attitude is "suck on this, losers."

Posted by: dailykos1 | June 24, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

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