Jefferson Trial Update: Cooking the Books

The Jefferson family’s “consulting” firm, the ANJ Group, had a unique business plan that was successful in keeping profit margins high.

N.O. accountant testifies that Jefferson family firm took in cash, but incurred no expenses

Jack Swetland, a New Orleans CPA who served as the Democratic congressman’s tax accountant and campaign treasurer, said he was aware that the ANJ Group, named for Jefferson’s wife and daughters, was receiving, at least for a while, monthly payments of $7,500 from iGate, but did not list any business expenses on its tax filings.

When defense attorney Robert Trout noted that businesses are not required to report business expenses, Swetland smiled and said that he supposed that was true, if the purpose was to pay more in taxes. [Note: CPA with a sense of humor. – ed.]

Federal prosecutors allege that ANJ was a shell company created to hide the payments iGate was making for Jefferson’s help in brokering deals in West Africa. Jefferson is facing a 16-count indictment that includes bribery and fraud charges.

Swetland said he didn’t know the depth of Jefferson’s involvement with iGate until August 2005, when Swetland’s Poydras Street office, along with Jefferson’s homes in New Orleans and Washington, D.C., were raided by the FBI.

After the raid, Swetland said, he severed his long relationship with Jefferson. He explained his thinking: “I can’t be associated with someone like this, that is under this suspicion, ” he said. To stick with Jefferson at that point, he said, would “have a bad effect on the rest of my clients.”

Swetland and Andrea Jefferson were the two people who could write checks off the ANJ account and the prosecution entered into evidence a series of checks written to the Jeffersons and their daughters. Swetland was asked to examine each, which bore what was purported to be his signature. He said it was not his handwriting, and that in a couple of cases, looked like William Jefferson’s hand. [emphasis added throughout.]

R’uh-r’oh! That sounds serious!