Saturday, June 21, 2008

A dynsasty of scuzzbuckets

New Orleans tax assessor Betty Jefferson, her brother, Mose Jefferson, and her daughter, Angela Coleman, appeard in court Friday on charges that include federal program fraud, identity theft and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They are accused pocketing more than $600,000 in state and federal grant money intended for charitable and educational projects.

 The federal indictment of Assessor Betty Jefferson, 70, her brother, Mose Jefferson, 66, and her daughter, Angela Coleman, 53, accuses the trio of stealing public housing and education funds — starting before she was first elected to the office more than a decade ago.

Brenda Jefferson Foster - the youngest sister of embattled U.S. Rep. William Jefferson - plead guilty yesterday to helping her family skim money from Jefferson family non profits. A summary of the government’s case against her, which she signed, says she knew of and participated in various schemes being carried out by relatives who are now facing corruption charges. Brenda Jefferson also said that two of her family members charged in the charity scandal made out checks to her from the charities’ accounts, then forged the endorsement and deposited the money in their own accounts.

Archie and Mose Jefferson
Mose Jefferson called his sister Brenda and tried to meet with her after learning she agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors; Archie Jefferson also called Brenda after the guilty plea to set up a meeting with her.

Now a second generation of Jefferson is getting into the "family business">

From a LexisNexis News story:
Records show that between 1994 and 2006, the state of Louisiana contributed at least $5.5 million to three of the groups: Care Unlimited, Orleans Metropolitan Housing and Central City Adult Education. Most of the money was earmarked by then-state Rep. Renee Gill Pratt (longtime girlfriend of Mose Jefferson), a protege of the congressman, and her successor, Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, the congressman's daughter. Jefferson-Bullock is no longer in office.

For example $176,029 of a $178,000 grant to Care Unlimited that was supposed to be used to train and counsel at-risk black males was improperly diverted. So was an entire $25,000 grant to Orleans Metropolitan Housing that was supposed to buy equipment to clean Central City. And $71,447 of a $100,000 grant for pregnant teens ended up enriching the defendants, according to prosecutors.

The money intended for what sounded like worthwhile causes. The grants called for helping pregnant teenagers, at-risk youth and adults and high school dropouts who are trying to pass the GED, among others.

In many cases, though, the indictment says that the programs were simply shams. A Care Unlimited report that claimed to have provided certified teachers for 25 pregnant teenagers, for example, didn't do so, the indictment said. The person that supposedly provided the teachers did not work for the charity, the indictment said, and two-thirds of the grant money went to Betty Jefferson and her daughter.

Bill Jefferson's shenanigans are not news to us. Starting right before Hurricane Katrina, his sleazy past came home to roost:

Prosecutors say that Jefferson used his influence as co-chairman of the Congressional Africa Investment and Trade Caucus to broker the deals and that he demanded kickbacks for himself and his family. He is also charged with bribing a Nigerian official.

Jefferson reportedly received more than $500,000 in bribes and demanded millions more from 2000 to 2005. Federal Bureau of Investigation videotaped Mr. Jefferson picking up a $100,000 bribe in 2005 from an informer in a hotel parking garage. Two days later, agents from the bureau raided Mr. Jefferson’s house in Washington and found $90,000 in a box in his freezer.

And now this man is brazen enough to run for a 10th term in congress.

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