Former Rep. Jefferson guilty on 11 of 16 counts

A federal jury in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday found former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) guilty on 11 of 16 counts of corruption.

The jury of eight women and four men weighed the case for five days. Judge T.S. Ellis III will now decide his fate.

Jefferson faces hefty prison time; if he had been convicted on all counts he faced the possibility of more than 200 years behind bars.

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Jefferson stood accused of conducting a massive international bribery, money-laundering and racketeering operation that involved promoting business interests in Africa in return for bribes for his family members. Jefferson has maintained his innocence, arguing that it was all private business and did not involve official congressional acts on his part.

The prosecution called 50 witnesses to deliver overlapping testimony about the details of Jefferson's business deals in West Africa from 2000 through 2005.

Jefferson, however, never took the stand in his own defense. His attorneys called only two witnesses. They were done in two hours. 

An infamous Aug. 3, 2005, raid of Jefferson's home in Washington allegedly revealed $90,000 stuffed in the freezer. The jury did not find him guilty on the count relating to that money and the Foreign Corruptions Practices Act.

On Wednesday, Ellis apologized to the jury, saying that during his instructions he “may have misspoken.” Among the discrepancies in his two-hour instructions, Ellis conceded that he had accidentally placed the onus on the "defendant" instead of on the "government" in proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

During the trial, Jefferson’s lead attorney, Robert Trout, protested that Ellis’s preferential rulings had “eviscerated” their defense.