Former City Attorney testifies again before Herenton grand jury - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former City Attorney testifies again before Herenton grand jury

Elbert Jefferson Elbert Jefferson

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Former Memphis City Attorney Elbert Jefferson testified before a federal grand jury Monday about two investigations involving former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

After his testimony, which lasted about an hour, Jefferson had few words outside court.

"I don't think I can say anything about what I said in the grand jury," he said. "I just responded to the questions that were presented."

But the rigors of the grand jury inquiry were rough on Jefferson, who suffers from diabetes.

"My sugar was up today, but I had to take some insulin while I was in there," he said.

Jefferson's testimony centered on two investigations, both involving Herenton.  In one case, Jefferson made a tape recording with Herenton's consent, on which he questions the former mayor about a $91,000 private land deal.  Did he or didn't he use his position as mayor for profit?  The former mayor and the current Memphis City Council attorney say "no."

Members of the grand jury are trying to figure that out for themselves.

"We had given them materials and tape, and we knew they needed a chance to look at it and review it, and we knew they would probably have questions.  They did and we came back," said Jefferson's attorney, Ted Hansom.

The other investigation involves $55,000 in city funds Jefferson authorized as payment for the former mayor's legal defense in the federal probe.

Hansom said he anticipated the grand jury would need two rounds of questioning.

"They have an investigative responsibility and a fact-finding responsibility," he said. "Based on what I've heard, that's what they're attempting to do."

But Hansom added that the Feds are running out of time.

"This grand jury is nearing the end of its term," he said. "There's also, from a prosecution standpoint, a statute of limitations."

The grand jury sits for a specified amount of time, Hansom said.  That time can be extended, but not indefinitely. Federal prosecutors have less than 30 days to wrap up the case or they'll have to start over with a new grand jury.

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