Congressman Jefferson: 'I Am Absolutely Innocent' of Bribery Charges

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Louisiana Democrat Rep. William Jefferson proclaimed his innocence Friday in his first public remarks since being indicted on bribery charges earlier this week.

“I am absolutely innocent of the charges that have been leveled against me. I’m going to fight my heart out to clear my name," Jefferson told reporters while standing next to his wife, Dr. Andrea Green Jefferson.

Jefferson earlier in the day pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court.

Judge T.S. Ellis let Jefferson out on a $100,000 bond and set his trial for Jan. 16. Ellis also denied Jefferson access to shotguns and rifles in his Louisiana home, which he said are used for hunting. Ellis on Thursday froze Jefferson's assets.

Jefferson was charged Monday with 16 criminal counts in a 94-page indictment, including racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. The indictment comes two years after investigators raided Jefferson's home in Washington and found $90,000 in cash stuffed in a box in his freezer.

Jefferson defended the discovery of cash on Friday, saying it was part of an FBI sting operation.

"Did I bribe a foreign official? Absolutely not. The $90,000 was the FBI's money, the FBI gave to me as part of their plan, that I would give it to the Nigerian vice president, but I did not do that," Jefferson said. "When all the facts are understood, I expect to be fully vindicated, both in the minds of the jurors who will hear this case and in the mind of the general public."

The judge ruled that Jefferson can travel freely between Washington, D.C., and his home district in Louisiana. His attorney will hold on to his passport and if Jefferson wants to travel outside of those boundaries, he has to get permission from the judge.

Jefferson spoke about his family, saying they believe in public service and obeying the law.

“We will sell every stick of furniture in our home and anything else we own or may possess, to clear our name and to see that justice is done,” Jefferson said.

At the hearing, prosecutor Mark Lytle said the government had eight file cabinets filled with evidence and tape recordings to prove its case.

Among the 16 criminal counts Jefferson is facing is a criminal forfeiture count, and prosecutors have already said they will seek to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars from Jefferson that they believe he obtained illicitly by peddling his influence to help broker business deals in Africa.

Jefferson faces a possible maximum sentence of 235 years.

FOX News' Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.