Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Jefferson Family Update: Movin' on Out

There has been a lot of activity going on in New Orleans' once powerful Jefferson clan.

You might recall that William Jefferson is my former congressman who was convicted of bribery after federal investigators found, among other things, $90K in cold hard cash in his freezer.  He has remained free, pending appeal, since being sentenced to 13 years in the federal pen in November 2009.  Yes, it's been that long.  Oral arguments were re-scheduled for May of this year, but they have since been postponed yet again due to his attorney's battle with lymphoma.  No date has been set while Dollar Bill cools his heels out in the fresh air.

Brother Mose Jefferson, who was also convicted in 2009 on several counts of bribery and obstruction of justice, had been serving his 10-year sentence when he succumbed to cancer in May of this year. His passing got him excused from another unrelated trial for criminal fraud, not yet set, that involved a scheme to divert monies intended for charitable endeavors, cooked up by Mose and gal-pal, former City Council member and state legislator, Renee Gill-Pratt.  Her first trial in February of this year resulted in a hung jury, and re-trial begins this coming Monday.

Testifying in that re-trial against Gill-Pratt will be sister Betty Jefferson and her daughter Wanda Coleman, who pleaded guilty in the scam and took a deal.  Betty and Wanda are scheduled to be sentenced on August 31st -- happy birthday to me!

And now, it looks like there might be even a little more action on the Betty front.  You might recall that Betty Jefferson had served as the New Orleans Fourth District Assessor for a number of years, and that misappropriation of Parish funds made up the bulk of the charges against her in the bogus charity scheme with Mose, Gill-Pratt, and daughter Wanda. 

Get ready for this -- it gets even more convoluted.

It was revealed yesterday that an audit of the last five years of Betty's tenure as Assessor revealed up to $114,000 additional checks in possibly misappropriated funds.  It might be simply a matter of sloppy record-keeping, but when you consider that several of the checks drawn on the Assessor's work fund were made payable to an Assessor's office employee whose endorsement was then forged by a Jefferson family member, who subsequently kept the money, something smells stinky in the Crescent City. 

Among those invited to respond to the audit, but all of whom declined, were the office employee, Betty, Wanda, and Wanda's daughter Tawanda Coleman.  So now we've added another generation to the family business in public corruption. 

It seems to me that the Betty clan might be looking at state charges and orange jumpsuits in the near future.

I warned you previously about Bill's daughters -- the highly educated ones -- but his great-nieces and nephews didn't blip on my radar.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: this family is nothing more than a band of amoral brigands aiming to "spread the wealth" from the public and the poor by channeling it to themselves.

I'd better get the ol' radar tuned up.