Judge denies Jefferson new trial

Jefferson had requested the new trial based in part on the judge’s refusal to allow the jury to hear about a sexual relationship between a government informant — who wore a wire and recorded conversations with the defendant — and an FBI agent assigned to the corruption case.

Judge T.S. Ellis III, the same judge who heard the original case, determined the issue wasn’t relevant because the government relied only on recorded conversations between the informant, Lori Mody, and Jefferson and did not call her as a witness in the trial or enter any other statements from her into the record, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“Defendant offers no basis for concluding that the evidence of the Mody-Guandolo relationship was relevant to any matters in issue at trial and therefore admissible,” Ellis wrote in his ruling, the paper reported.

Lead FBI agent Timothy Thibault disclosed the relationship between Mody and agent John Guandolo, who served as the undercover driver for Mody, four days before jury selection began in the trial.

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Jefferson’s legal team, headed by Robert Trout, had argued that the relationship was indicative of larger credibility problems involved in the FBI’s lengthy investigation of Jefferson and the testimony of Thibault, its lead investigator.

Jefferson was found guilty on 11 of 16 charges, including bribery and racketeering, on Aug. 5. He faces sentencing Oct. 30.

Mody was the informant who gave Jefferson the $90,000 in cash that later ended up in his freezer. Jefferson actually received $100,000 in a briefcase Mody gave to him in a Virginia parking lot. The government said he was planning on giving that money as a bribe to Atiku Abubakar, then the vice president of Nigeria, in exchange for his help with a telecom deal Mody was pursuing in that country.

The jury didn’t find Jefferson guilty of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the count linked to the money in the freezer.

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