Rep. Jefferson Vows Innocence in Bribery Scandal

Published May 15, 2006

| Associated Press

U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, said Monday he will not resign in the face of a federal investigation that has netted two guilty pleas from people who implicated him in a bribery scheme.

Jefferson declared his innocence during an afternoon news conference outside the federal building in New Orleans.

"I would take full responsibility for any crime that I committed, if that were the case. But I will not plead guilty to something I did not do, no matter how things are made to look and no matter the risk," Jefferson said, reading from a prepared statement.

He took no questions.

In January, former Jefferson aide Brett Pfeffer pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges.

Pfeffer said that a congressman demanded bribes in exchange for his assistance in brokering two African telecommunications deals. Court documents make clear that Jefferson is the accused congressman, without naming him.

Last week, Vernon Jackson, chief executive of iGate Inc., a Louisville, Ky., telecommunications firm, pleaded guilty to bribery, admitting he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Jefferson and his family members in exchange for the congressman's help obtaining business deals in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

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