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Guilty verdict in ex-New Orleans mayor bribery case



By Kevin McGill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted Wednesday on charges that he accepted bribes, free trips and other gratuities from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work while he was in office, including right after Hurricane Katrina.

The federal jury found Nagin guilty of 20 of 21 counts against him. He sat quietly at the defense table after the verdict was read and his wife, Seletha, was being consoled in the front row.

Before the verdict, the 57-year-old Ray Nagin said outside the New Orleans courtroom: "I've been at peace with this for a long time. I'm good."

The Democrat, who left office in 2010 after eight years, was indicted in January 2013 on charges he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of local businessman Frank Fradella.

He also was charged with accepting thousands of dollars in in payoffs from another businessman, Rodney Williams, for his help in securing city contracts.

Nagin is best remembered for his impassioned pleas for help after levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, flooding much of New Orleans and plunging the city into chaos.

Nagin testified that key witnesses lied and prosecutors misinterpreted evidence including emails, checks and pages from his appointment calendar linking him to businessmen who said they bribed him.

The defense repeatedly said prosecutors overstated Nagin's authority to approve contracts. His lawyer said there is no proof money and material given to the granite business owned by Nagin and his sons was tied to city business.

The charges against Nagin included one overarching conspiracy count along with six counts of bribery, nine counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy and four counts of filing false tax returns. He was acquitted of one of the bribery counts.

Each charges carries a sentence from 3 to 20 years, but how long he would serve was unclear and will depend on a pre-sentence investigation and various sentencing guidelines. No sentencing date was set.

Prosecutors say he took hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of bribes including money, free travel and granite for Stone Age LLC, a family granite business.

They allege the corruption spanned the time before and after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005.

The charges resulted from a City Hall corruption investigation that had resulted in several convictions or guilty pleas by former Nagin associates by the time trial started on Jan. 27.

Fradella and Williams, both awaiting sentencing for their roles in separate bribery schemes alleged in the case, each testified that they bribed Nagin.

Nagin's former technology chief, Greg Meffert, who also is awaiting sentencing after a plea deal, told jurors he helped another businessman, Mark St. Pierre, bribe Nagin with lavish vacation trips. St. Pierre did not testify. He was convicted in the case in 2011.

Nagin said he did not to know his vacation trips to Jamaica and Hawaii were paid for by St. Pierre. He also said he wasn't told that a family trip to New York was paid for by a movie theater owner who, prosecutors said, received help with a city tax issue after Katrina wiped out the theater.

Ray Nagin Found Guilty On Federal Corruption Charges

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johnria February 12 2014 at 2:24 PM

A politician on the take? Say it isn't so.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
lgvxl42 February 12 2014 at 2:24 PM

Will he be bunking with Kwame Kilpatrick?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
shenson1116 February 12 2014 at 2:25 PM

Where is your "chocolate city" now, big boy? LOL!

Flag Reply +12 rate up
Pat February 12 2014 at 2:26 PM

Nice article, where is the verdict mentioned?

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
yanusasw Pat February 12 2014 at 2:30 PM

That is how the liberals dance around the truth. By the way, I went to another site and he was found guilty.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
kristnoplis February 12 2014 at 2:26 PM

What was it? Waste of a read.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
venthaven February 12 2014 at 2:26 PM

Guilty on 20 of 21 charges.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
manny6168 February 12 2014 at 2:27 PM

The first sentence said "a verdict was reached". So, what's the verdict?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
B February 12 2014 at 2:27 PM

WTF? The verdict was? Geeeeesh.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
bdhauto February 12 2014 at 2:27 PM

What was the Verdict ?

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Old Curmudgeon February 12 2014 at 2:27 PM

typical crap huffington journalism..... "a verdict was reached".... NOTHING MENTIONED ABOUT GUILTY OR INNOCENT. I'm sick and tired of this "switch and bait" form of adolescent journalism and will never ever believe anything I read here in a teaser headline again!!!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
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