Billy Jefferson’s final bill to the federal government has been tallied.
The imprisoned local developer must pay $9.65 million in restitution as part of his penance for a historic real estate tax fraud scheme.
That’s the number U.S. Circuit Court Judge John A. Gibney officially ordered in a Friday court filing. It’s about $3.3 million less than Jefferson originally agreed to in a December 2013 plea agreement and is on top of a 20-year sentence he received for his crimes in September.
The restitution reduction comes after Jefferson’s defense attorneys argued that $3.3 million of the tax credits Jefferson received on his real estate projects were invalid for reasons unrelated to his illegal activity.
Jefferson is represented in his criminal proceedings by Williams Mullen attorney Chuck James.
“It’s a good day for Bill Jefferson because it means he’s that much closer to satisfying his restitution and satisfying his obligations to the court,” James said.
Jefferson has paid back roughly $1.5 million of his restitution requirement so far. And he has planned to liquidate his real estate holdings to cover the rest of the payment.
A major portfolio containing more than 400 Jefferson-owned apartments will be up for sale at an auction on Dec. 18.
In determining his restitution, an issue arose over an agreement between Jefferson and Chevron, a third-party investor that Jefferson brought into a historic rehab project and essentially sold the tax credits to.
It’s common practice for developers to bring tax credit investors into large projects. The investor typically pays cash upfront at an agreed-upon fraction of the total value of the forthcoming tax credits.
The IRS, however, disallowed nearly $3.3 million worth of credits after ruling the agreement between Jefferson and Chevron did not make the corporation a true partner in the development project.
Therefore, the defense argued, Chevron was out its $3.3 million for reasons entirely unrelated to Jefferson’s criminal activity and was not eligible for restitution as part of the criminal case.
Restitution can only be ordered to compensate for wrongdoing and not as a punishment for it.
Chevron may still bring a civil suit seeking payment from Jefferson, his defense said in recent court filings.
Jefferson is serving his time in FCI Yazoo City Low, a low security federal prison in Yazoo City, Miss. He has filed a notice that he plans to appeal his 20-year sentence.