Louisiana Political News Wire
Mose Jefferson and Renee Gill Pratt face new indictment
As 4th District Assessor, Betty Jefferson earned a government salary of about $90,000 a year to appraise properties in the Garden District. Unbeknownst to her constituents, who elected her three times, she was pocketing taxpayer money through other, illegitimate methods. Using sham nonprofits, she helped herself to over $200,000 in federal and state grants intended for pregnant teenagers, high school dropouts and other needy people. She has also admitted to diverting more than $7,000 from the assessor's office to herself and her daughter. The scheme was a family endeavor: Jefferson's daughter and two of her siblings, Bennie and Mose, were involved in setting up the agencies that received the lucrative grants. Her brother, former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, and her niece, former state Rep. Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, were among the legislators who steered the money their way, but neither has been charged in the nonprofit scheme. Another sibling, Brenda Jefferson Foster, was the first of the Jefferson clan to plead guilty. Last week, Betty Jefferson and her daughter, Angela Coleman, followed with pleas of their own, setting the stage for a dramatic sister-against-brother trial later this month. On Friday, a grand jury returned a new indictment against Betty's brother, Mose Jefferson, and his former girlfriend, Renee Gill Pratt, who allegedly used her positions as a New Orleans city councilwoman and state representative to funnel government funds to her co-conspirators. The revised document reflects the recent guilty pleas, but otherwise is not substantially different from a previous version charging the two with a $1 million racketeering enterprise. As a condition of her deal with prosecutors, Betty Jefferson has agreed to testify against her brother and Gill Pratt in a trial scheduled for March 22, the latest chapter in the spectacular fall of the once-mighty Jefferson family. Jefferson, 70, has also resigned from her post as assessor, meaning that for the first time in three decades, there are no Jeffersons in elected office.
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