Another Guilty Plea Entered in Bribery Probe of Congressman

A Kentucky technology executive pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to bribing a congressman in charges stemming from an investigation of Rep. William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat.

Vernon Jackson, 53, chief executive of Louisville-based iGate Inc., pleaded guilty to bribery of a public official and conspiracy to bribe a public official.

The congressman was not identified in court documents or during Wednesday's plea hearing, but documents make clear that the congressman whom Jackson admits bribing is Jefferson, who represents New Orleans in the House.

Jackson faces a maximum of 20 years when he is sentenced July 27. The plea agreement calls for a sentencing guideline range not to exceed seven to nine years, but the judge is not bound by those guidelines.

Prosecutor Mark Lytle said Jackson paid roughly $360,000 over a four-year period to a company controlled by the congressman's wife in exchange for Jefferson's help promoting iGate technology in Africa. Jackson also gave the company a 24 percent stake in iGate and paid for $80,000 in travel expenses on the congressman's trips to Africa to promote iGate.

Jackson said in court that the congressman helped iGate receive a government certification allowing the company to obtain military contracts. After that, the congressman insisted on financial compensation to continue his efforts on behalf of iGate.

"I take full responsibility for what I have done," Jackson told U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III. Jackson declined comment after the hearing.

Jackson is the second person to plead guilty in connection with the investigation of Jefferson. Lytle said the investigation is ongoing.

The congressman has not been charged. Jefferson denies any wrongdoing and his office has said he is cooperating with investigators.

Brett Pfeffer, a former legislative director for Jefferson, pleaded guilty in January to aiding and abetting bribery of a public official and conspiracy.

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.

Jefferson denied the allegation, saying he has never demanded or accepted anything to perform a service for which he was elected.