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Robert Trout takes on another high-profile case

By Eric Rosenberg

January 23, 2008 at 7:08am

The trial of Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., begins next month with the nine-term congressman and former chairman of the U.S. congressional caucus on African trade facing a 16-count indictment including fraud, bribery, racketeering and money laundering.

Jefferson is charged with taking more than $500,000 in bribes and soliciting much more in a scheme to broker business deals in Africa.

Making the case for the congressman, whose freezer was stuffed with $90,000 in cash in $10,000 packets wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers, will be attorney Robert P. Trout.

A former federal prosecutor, Trout has defended other Democratic notables, including Carol M. Browner, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration. Browner had been charged with illegally destroying agency computer files that had been sought by a conservative legal foundation.

Trout also defended Schuyler Tilney, a Houston-based Merrill Lynch executive, against charges of securities fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Tilney of helping Enron Corp. improperly inflate its profit figures.

Trout is a partner in the law firm Trout Cacheris with Plato Cacheris, who has represented Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, spies serving life sentences. Other former clients of Cacheris include Monica Lewinsky, former U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell and Fawn Hall of Iran Contra fame.

Jefferson has hired PR chief Judy Smith of Impact Strategies, a crisis communications company in Washington, to help coordinate press queries and shape his media message during the trial. Smith work as a deputy press secretary for former President George H.W. Bush and has done work for Lewinsky, Sen. Larry Craig, and the family of Chandra Levy, the murdered congressional staffer who had an affair with former Rep. Gary Condit.

Trout has argued in recent pretrial hearings that certain evidence, including some of Jefferson’s statements to the FBI and evidence from Jefferson’s home, should not be admitted at the trial.

Trout asserts that FBI agents who raided Jefferson’s home in 2005 were overly hostile to Jefferson, who assumed they were going to arrest him.

“He thought he was going to be taken out in handcuffs,” Trout said.

Trout maintains that given the circumstances of the raid, the agents should have read the congressman his Miranda rights, but failed to do so.

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