updated 5/26/2006 4:22:26 PM ET 2006-05-26T20:22:26

A former aide to Rep. William Jefferson was sentenced Friday to eight years in federal prison for his role in a bribery scandal.

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Brett Pfeffer, 37, is cooperating in an ongoing probe and may be eligible for a sentence reduction afterward, a prosecutor said.

He pleaded guilty in January to helping broker deals between the Louisiana Democrat and a northern Virginia investment executive for whom Pfeffer worked. That executive has not been identified in court documents.

“I’ve gone over in my head 10 million times why I didn't look him in the eye and say no,” Pfeffer said during the sentencing in federal court.

He was sentenced on two bribery-related charges, conspiracy to commit bribery, and aiding and abetting bribery of a public official. Jefferson’s name did not come up in Friday’s hearing, but other documents have made clear he is that official.

Jefferson, an eight-term congressman, has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

According to court documents, the scheme fell apart when the Virginia executive became disenchanted with the business deals and approached the FBI. She agreed to wear a wire and recorded conversations with Jefferson in which he used coded conversations to discuss bribes, the documents show.

Jefferson also was videotaped taking a briefcase with $100,000 in $100 bills from the executive’s car. The money was found days later in Jefferson’s freezer.

Pfeffer worked for Jefferson in the mid-1990s and maintained a professional relationship with him. After introducing Jefferson to his boss, Pfeffer advised her that Jefferson would expect something in return for his assistance in brokering the deal.

Another Jefferson associate, a Louisville, Ky., telecommunications executive named Vernon Jackson, has pleaded guilty to paying more than $400,000 in bribes to Jefferson in exchange for his assistance securing business deals in Nigeria and other African nations.

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