Ex-New Orleans Mayor Found Guilty
A federal jury has convicted former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin of accepting bribes in exchange for contracting work while leading the hurricane-stricken city.
Nagin was found guilty of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and other gifts before and after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in August 2005, while he was mayor.
Nagin, 57, was convicted Wednesday (Feb. 12) of 20 out of 21 criminal charges, including bribery, honest service wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and filing false tax returns, according to prosecutors and various reports on the case.
Nagin was acquitted on one count of bribery by the jury.
The former chief executive has been ordered to remain in his home in Frisco, TX, subject to electronic monitoring until his sentencing, scheduled for June 11—his birthday. The charges carry a variety of maximum sentences, including three to 20 years in prison and fines from $100,000 to $250,000 on each count, according to prosecutors.
Nagin was charged in January 2013 for his role in a scheme to defraud the City of New Orleans through bribery and kickbacks, prosecutors said. The Democrat was first elected mayor in 2002. He served eight years, until 2010.
Beginning in December 2004, Nagin used his public office and official capacity to provide favorable treatment, including awarding contracts that benefited business and financial interests of individuals providing him with bribes and kickbacks, prosecutors said.
|AP / U.S. Coast Guard, Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi|
Nagin served as mayor of New Orleans from 2002 to 2010. Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005.
The illegal gifts came in the form of checks; cash; wire transfers; personal services; free travel to Hawaii, Chicago, Las Vegas, Jamaica, and New York; and granite inventory for his family business—Stone Age LLC.
For example, prosecutors say developer Frank Fradella paid the mayor bribes including $50,000, granite inventory, and nine payoffs in the form of wire transfers totaling $112,500.
Reports said in exchange, Fradella had received more than $4 million in city contracts for repair work at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and in the French Quarter after Katrina.
Nagin also accepted approximately $72,250 in bribes from Rodney Williams and his company, Three Fold Consultants LLC, for city contracting work, prosecutors said.
|Dieter Karner / Flickr / CC BY 2.0|
Prosecutors said that in exchange for bribes, one developer had received more than $4 million in city contracts for repair work at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and in the French Quarter after Katrina, according to reports.
Fradella pleaded guilty in June 2012 to conspiracy to commit bribery. Williams pleaded guilty in December 2012 to a conspiracy charge. Other consultants and businessmen were also involved in the scheme, according to authorities.
The indictment charged Nagin with accepting numerous bribes and payoffs from consultants and contractors, money laundering conspiracy, and filing false tax returns for the years 2005 to 2008.
The former mayor denied the charges against him during his corruption trial that began Jan. 27.
He testified that “key witnesses had lied and prosecutors had misinterpreted evidence including emails, checks and pages from his appointment calendar linking him to businessmen who said they bribed him,” according to the Associated Press’ coverage of the trial.
Following the jury’s verdict, Nagin was reportedly overheard saying “I maintain my innocence.”
His defense attorney, Robert Jenkins, said an appeal would be filed after sentencing and previously told reporters that the prosecution had overstated Nagin’s authority regarding city contracts and that there wasn’t any proof that money and inventory given to Nagin’s granite business was tied to the city.