Corruption Trial of Ex-Rep. Jefferson’s Niece May Be Delayed

Posted December 26, 2009 at 8:22am

A niece of former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) whose corruption trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 25 has been hospitalized with a heart condition, the Associated Press reported this week.Angela Coleman’s arraignment in the case was scheduled to take place before Christmas but was put off indefinitely, according to the AP. Her lawyer, public defender Valerie Jusselin, told the AP that her client has been hospitalized and may need triple bypass surgery next week. Her arraignment was postponed indefinitely.”I’ve been more concerned about her health than reading the 60-some pages in the indictment,” Jusselin said.Also charged in the case are Coleman’s mother, New Orleans tax assessor Betty Jefferson (D); her uncle, political operative Mose Jefferson; and former state Rep. Renee Gill Pratt (D).The four are accused of pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in government money earmarked for community and nonprofit groups. Coleman’s medical problems may force the trial to be postponed.William Jefferson isn’t charged in this case but was convicted of corruption charges in an unrelated case in Virginia earlier this year. Mose Jefferson was convicted in August of separate charges that he bribed the former president of the New Orleans school board to win contracts from the school district.