Ray Nagin, former mayor of New Orleans, is now a convict. A federal jury found him guilty of corruption charges on Wednesday, February 12. Nagin left office in 2010 after serving two terms as mayor.
In January 2013, Nagin was indicted on charges that he accepted thousands of dollars in bribes and payoffs. He was also charged with accepting truckloads of granite for his personal enterprise in exchange for supporting and promoting businessman Frank Fradella’s projects. The indictment included the services Nagin and his family received in exchange for his nod to businesses pursuing contracts in the city. More than $5 million in city contracts were reported to have been the result of these transactions.
The jury deemed Nagin guilty of 20 of the 21 counts against him. These include six counts of bribery, four counts of filing false tax returns, one count of overarching conspiracy, nine counts of wire fraud, and one money laundering conspiracy count. He was found not guilty of one count of bribery. The trial lasted for two weeks, during which prosecutors brought forth some of the businessmen who stepped forward to plead guilty to bribing the former mayor.
In his testimony, Nagin said that what the prosecution’s key witness said was false, and that the evidence were all misinterpreted by the prosecutors. In addition, Nagin’s lawyer remarked that there is no proof that his client was given money. The granite, though sent to the family business, was actually tied to projects for the city, he said. During the cross-examination, however, Nagin seemed to dig a deeper hole for himself when he said he couldn’t remember who paid for a trip or perk he received.
It was during Nagin’s first term as mayor when Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005. During that time, there were doubts as to whether the taxpayer money being sent to the city was being used for the right purposes, considering that the state had a long history of corruption. Nagin, who was elected to mayorship only a few years before the disaster, was ready to reassure the people and put their suspicions of corruption to rest. He reportedly said that anyone was free to do a Google search on him, adding, “You’re not going to find any of that in my record.”
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