Judge Rules Jefferson Probe Can Go Ahead Despite Appeal
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge said yesterday that investigators could examine documents seized in a search of Rep.William Jefferson’s office, denying a request to delay the bribery probe while the Louisiana Democrat appeals the judge’s earlier ruling that the search was legal.
Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan said granting the delay “would harm the public’s interest in a prompt and final outcome of the government’s investigation of serious crimes involving a sitting United States congressman running for re-election in November.”
Last week, Judge Hogan rejected arguments by Mr. Jefferson and House leaders in both parties that the May 20–21 search of Mr. Jefferson’s congressional office violated the Constitution’s protections against intimidation of elected officials.
For 16 months, investigators have been looking into whether the congressman promoted the sale of telecommunications equipment and services in exchange for stock and cash.
At issue is whether a review of the seized documents can begin by an FBI “filter team” unconnected to the prosecution team looking into bribery allegations. Mr. Jefferson contends no one in the executive branch of government should examine the documents until the question of returning the material to Mr. Jefferson is resolved on appeal.
Judge Hogan’s latest ruling also can be appealed.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has directed that any review of documents by the filter team not begin until July 27 to give judges time to consider Mr. Jefferson’s call for a delay.
The appeal of the decision that the search was legal could take several months, the Justice Department has said in arguing against the delay.