A familiar face in government corruption has a big smile on it now

Here’s a name which may come as a real blast from the past. How many of you recall William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson? He was a Democratic congressman from Louisiana who wound up in some trouble with the law involving shady overseas deals and the small matter of some cold, hard cash. “Cold” is the operative word here, as Ed Morrissey explained way back in 2009 when Jefferson was heading off to prison.

The sad, embarrassing saga of William “Dollar Bill/Cold Cash” Jefferson came to its ignominious end yesterday in a federal court in Louisiana. The former Congressman, who kept $90,000 in his freezer and once diverted emergency-response resources during Hurricane Katrina to evacuate himself, will serve 13 years in prison for corruption. The judge cut in half the recommended sentence from prosecutors, but still wound up with a longer sentence than most former Representatives:

This was a case which embarrassed the Democrats greatly and led to some maneuvering which made their leadership look really bad. Denny Hastert and Nancy Pelosi both fought the FBI and tried to prevent them from keeping and using evidence collected from Jefferson’s congressional office in their case against him. In the end, of course, none of that helped and Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years. Since he remained out on bail for the entire proceeding, he was expected to serve at least 85% of that time before being considered for parole.

Now the worm has turned, and thanks to a new standard for what constitutes “official conduct” by elected representatives of the people, Jefferson is out of the pokey and free as a bird. (Daily Caller)

Former Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson was released from prison after serving less than half of his 13-year sentence, due to a Supreme Court ruling that increased the prosecutorial threshold for corruption charges.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III re-sentenced Jefferson, a former Democratic lawmaker, to time served Friday morning after vacating Jefferson’s last remaining conviction, according to The Washington Post. Ellis first sentenced Jefferson in 2009 on corruption charges but was compelled to reduce the 13-year sentence due to the high court’s reinterpretation of what behavior constitutes public corruption.

The Supreme Court case concerning Republican Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell led to the redefinition of what behavior on the part of an elected official constitutes an “official act,” narrowing the scope of potentially prosecutable behavior.

Yes, if you want to blame somebody for this I suppose you can pin it on Bob McDonnell. In April of last year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the former Virginia Governor’s conviction on corruption charges. They found that the construction of the statutory term “official act” was too broad, opening the door for many of McDonnell’s alleged sins to fall by the wayside. Apparently, that same higher bar for official corruption is also too high to be met by stuffing tens of thousands of dollars of foreign money into your freezer.

But there’s some good news for the government in the end. Uncle Sam will keep $189,000 seized from Jefferson’s ill gotten gains and he won’t try to get it back if the government agrees not to bring any new charges against him. Isn’t that adorable? It’s wonderful how a couple of hundred thousand dollars can make all the kids play together so nicely.