NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - For the last five years, former Congressman William Jefferson has been just a number in the federal prison system, serving a 13-year sentence for bribery and corruption since 2012. But Saturday, for one night, Jefferson was the father of the bride.
Family members say they had no idea Jefferson had been granted a furlough for the wedding until he showed up with an escort from Oakdale prison. A family member said he was brought to the Westin Hotel on Canal Street by a federal marshal or prison guard. His family was allowed to bring him a change of clothes, and he walked his daughter down the aisle.
In a short video you can see Jefferson holding the arm of his daughter as flash bulbs pop. His brother, Archie Jefferson, said he was very surprised and happy that he had the opportunity to escort his daughter down the aisle. It was completely unexpected.
"You apply to the Bureau of Prisons to see if you can get out," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti. "The judge has some input on it - it's not a slam dunk and they say sorry you can't get out. For whatever reason, he was able to attend his daughter's wedding, but it's not a sure thing."
His daughter, Dr. Akilah Jefferson, married Dr. Sanjay Shah, and hundreds of guests attended. Jefferson, under the constant watch of a guard, was also able to attend the reception, and then he was taken back to prison.
"It's not like a regular wedding situation," Raspanti said. "The family was probably not given a lot of notice, limited what he could drink, what he could do and how long he could be there. It's a restricted thing, but he's happy to have been there the amount of time that he was."
Michael Frantz is with Jail Time Consulting, which assists inmates like Jefferson with furloughs.
"He can't go anyplace else when he is going, he can't drink or take drugs," Franz said. "When he gets back he has to take a urine test and has to pay for that."
According to Frantz, Jefferson has to pay for the cost of the, including for the official who escorts him.