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Justices reject Jefferson’s bribery appeal

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is leaving in place the corruption conviction of a former Louisiana congressman who hid money from bribes in his freezer.

The justices on Monday rejected without comment an appeal by former Rep. William Jefferson, who is serving a 13-year term in federal prison.

The Louisiana Democrat was convicted in 2009 after FBI agents investigating allegations of corruption found $90,000 in cash hidden in Jefferson’s freezer.

Jefferson reported to a federal prison in Texas in May. The prison is a low-security institution in Beaumont.

A jury in Virginia convicted him of bribery, racketeering and other charges in 2009. Jefferson was allowed to remain free pending the outcome of his appeal. In March, an appeals court upheld all but one of the 11 counts on which Jefferson was convicted.

Jefferson represented parts of New Orleans in Congress for almost 20 years.

He rose from north Louisiana poverty to become Louisiana’s first modern day African-American congressman and a powerful politician.

Jefferson, a Harvard-educated lawyer with a master’s degree in taxation from Georgetown University, had a soft-spoken, professorial demeanor that belied his reputation as a hardball politician and money-hungry businessman. His opponents dubbed him “dollar Bill,” owing in part to his interest in a rent-to-own business in New Orleans that political opponents said charged predatory rates.

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