Meetings between Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) and Lori Mody, a wealthy businesswoman he was secretly working with to launch telecommunications deals in West Africa, are described in an affidavit filed by the FBI, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. At one point, Jefferson reportedly reached into her car trunk and pulled out a leather briefcase containing $100,000 cash meant to grease the palms of Nigerian officials. Unknown to Jefferson, Mody also had been working with the FBI, which videotaped the transaction from several vantage points. Four days later, agents would raid Jefferson’s home on Capitol Hill and recover $90,000 in a freezer, where stacks of $100 bills were wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in frozen-food containers.
Agents had used the affidavit to persuade a federal judge to let them search Jefferson’s congressional office a day earlier. Jefferson has not been charged, and has declared his innocence, saying he has never sought anything for himself or his family in return for performing the duties of a congressman. The 95-page document is certain to raise the pressure on the congressman, who said last week that he wouldn’t resign despite an ongoing House ethics investigation. The affidavit quotes him on a wiretap telling Mody, “I make a deal for my children,” and at another point, “I’m in the shadows, behind the curtain.” It even captures him laughing at their cloak-and-dagger methods “as if the FBI is watching.”