William Jefferson corruption trial shifts to other ‘schemes’
On Thursday, prosecutors said the story of Baton Rouge-based Arkel International’s involvement with Jefferson is similar to what the jury had heard about Jefferson’s efforts to bring iGate Inc.’s telecommunications technology to western Africa. Jefferson was willing to provide assistance, but only if a family-owned business was provided with money, prosecutors said.
George Knost, Arkel’s president, testified that he had a meeting in the fall of 2000 with Jefferson, the governor of the state of Jigawa in Nigeria, the congressman’s brother Mose Jefferson and Renee Gill Pratt, then a state representative and longtime girlfriend of Mose Jefferson.
Knost said the meeting was to discuss a sugar plant Arkel hoped to build in Nigeria. After the meeting, in the parking lot of the company’s Baton Rouge office, Knost said the congressman told him that Arkel would need to hire Mose Jefferson as a consultant.
It was a “very clear prerequisite” to get Jefferson’s assistance with the Nigeria deal, Knost said.
Asked what would happen had he turned down the request, Knost told the lead prosecutor: “I would expect him to give me no assistance.”
Knost said he agreed to a consulting contract that would pay Mose Jefferson’s company, Providence International LLC, a 4 percent share of contracts landed because of its contacts, which the Baton Rouge businessman said he took to mean “Congressman Jefferson’s efforts.” He said William Jefferson had close contacts with western African leaders.
For those of you keeping a scorecard, Mose Jefferson and Renee Gill Pratt are two of the four Jefferson Clan members currently under RICO indictment by U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.
The jury also heard Thursday from FBI Special Agent Lisa Horner, who testified about documents found in Jefferson’s New Orleans home during the Aug. 3, 2005, search. One referred to a contract between WorldSpace Inc. and the ANJ Group, controlled by Jefferson’s wife, Andrea, and their five children, for helping the company sell educational broadcasts to Africa.
Another provided similar benefits to another Jefferson family company for helping LETH Energy, now known as Global Environmental Energy Corp., market garbage recycling incinerators in Africa and elsewhere.
Among other things, the document described by Horner called for the family-owned business to be paid 18.75 percent of the profits for incinerators sold in the United States. The payout would be even bigger for incinerators built in New Orleans, 25 percent of all profits, according to the document.