New Orleans Ex-Mayor Convicted of Bribery

Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina wrecked the city, was convicted by a federal jury Wednesday on 20 counts of bribery and fraud.  During the 8-day trial, prosecutors called more than two dozen witnesses who described a pay-to-play operation at city hall in which Nagin reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Businessmen would make large payments to Nagin, or provide him with other perks, such as free vacations (Hawaii and Jamaica) or free cellphone service, in exchange for lucrative city contracts.  Truckloads of free granite were also delivered to Stone Age LLC, a kitchen counter company that he owned with his sons.

Among the government witnesses were Frank Fradella and Rodney Williams, businessmen who pleaded guilty to bribing Nagin and then cooperated with prosecutors in hopes of receiving more lenient sentences.  Nagin took the stand in his own defense, and claimed that the payments made to Stone Age  were actually investments in his sons’ business.   

An extensive paper trail helped prosecutors make the case against Nagin, who never took to heart the wisdom of the godfather of Louisiana graft, Governor Huey P. Long:  “Don’t write anything you can phone. Don’t phone anything you can talk. Don’t talk anything you can whisper. Don’t whisper anything you can smile. Don’t smile anything you can nod. Don’t nod anything you can wink.”

The former mayor is likely facing a prison sentence of 14-17 years.  He continues to maintain his innocence and has vowed to appeal the verdict.  Sentencing is set for June 11, 2014.

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  1. Pingback: Former New Orleans Mayor to Serve 10 Years in Prison | Public Corruption Blog

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