NPR logo Ex-Congressman William Jefferson Gets 13 Years Prison Time

Ex-Congressman William Jefferson Gets 13 Years Prison Time

Friday the 13th was definitely a very unlucky day for William Jefferson, the ex-congressman who became infamous after the Federal Bureau of Investigation found fat wads of cash in the freezer of his Washington, D.C. home.

He was sentenced Friday to 13 years (there's that number again) in federal prison. It's the longest sentence in history for congressional corruption.

NPR's Peter Overby reports the following:

Federal judge T.S. Ellis in Alexandria, Virginia handed down a sentence that's less than half of what prosecutors had wanted.

But it's still much longer than the previous record-holder — former congressman Randy Duke Cunningham, now serving 8 years 4 months.

Jefferson, a Democrat, is famous for the $90,000 found in his kitchen freezer.

U.S. attorney Neil McBride said he hoped Jefferson will now be known for the tough sentence too.

The case involved 11 schemes to extract money from entrepreneurs who wanted Jefferson's help with business deals in Africa.

Prosecutors said he intended to get millions of dollars but actually netted less than $500,000.

Cunningham, a California Republican, wrote spending earmarks as contractors gave him bribes worth more than $2 million.