Louisiana Money Laundering Case Deliberations Resume

October 22, 2008

A jury of six men and six women in New Orleans resumed deliberations Oct. 21 in the money laundering trial of Gwendolyn Moyo related to the alleged operation of an illegal insurance company.

Moyo, 53, is accused of 41 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly selling more than a dozen fraudulent construction bonds for $2 million.

After hearing closing arguments by the U.S. Attorney’s office and Moyo – who defended herself although she is not a lawyer – jurors began deliberating about 2 p.m. Oct. 20 and considered the case for six hours before shutting down for the night.

After three days of presenting witnesses, the prosecution rested its case on Oct. 17.

Moyo told U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier that she would present no evidence, and closing arguments began.

While prosecutors recapped the evidence they had presented, Moyo delivered a rambling statement during the hour she was given for summation in which she ridiculed the prosecution’s arguments and told the jury she was the victim of a government plot.

“The bottom line is that they’re after William and Betty Jefferson. I just got caught in the middle,” she said, referring to U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, and his sister, a New Orleans assessor.

Both Jeffersons are listed as unindicted co-conspirators in Moyo’s federal indictment. A third New Orleans area politician, former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering four days before Moyo’s trial started.

Jefferson, D-New Orleans, allegedly steered Moyo to Shepherd as a way to pay off campaign debt, according to the indictment against Shepherd. Shepherd had run against Jefferson in 2006, but after finishing third, he endorsed Jefferson in the runoff.

Moyo said she was acting as an insurance consultant and did not need a license. She accused the government of pressuring business associates to testify against her.

“They were threatened, coerced and scared into saying whatever the government wanted them to say,” Moyo told the jury. “That’s not America; that’s not justice.”

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