Congressman's sister pleads guilty in scheme

Rep. William Jefferson (D-La) talks to the press while leaving U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia after arraignment proceedings against him in Alexandria, Virginia June 8, 2007. REUTERS/Larry Downing

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The sister of indicted Democratic Rep. William Jefferson pleaded guilty to concealing a crime on Wednesday, the fourth relative of the Louisiana lawmaker to become entangled in the family’s legal troubles.

Brenda Jefferson, 52, helped defraud several nonprofit organizations by concealing and failing to report the activities of two of her siblings, Betty Jefferson and Mose Jefferson, and her niece, Angela Coleman, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors in New Orleans recently charged the three other relatives with conspiring to steal more than $600,000 from organizations they set up to help at-risk and disadvantaged youth.

Brenda Jefferson, also known as Brenda Foster, performed clerical work for the nonprofits run by her relatives.

According to prosecutors, she has admitted to receiving $90,000 in payments from the organizations.

William Jefferson, a congressman since 1991 whose district includes New Orleans, was charged last year with racketeering, soliciting bribes for himself and his family, fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and on Tuesday said he will seek re-election in the fall.

Brenda Foster faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to prosecutors.