Guilty verdict in ex-New Orleans mayor bribery case

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Guilty verdict in ex-New Orleans mayor bribery case
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaves federal court after being sentenced in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Nagin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor, including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, center, leaves federal court after being sentenced in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Nagin was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor, including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin hugs an unidentified person as he leaves federal court after being sentenced in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Nagin was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor, including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaves federal court with his wife Seletha Nagin after being sentenced in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Nagin was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor, including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaves federal court with his wife, Seletha Nagin, after being sentenced in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Nagin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor, including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaves federal court after his conviction in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaves federal court after his conviction in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaves federal court with his wife Seletha, left, after his conviction in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and wife Seletha, leave federal court after his conviction, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in New Orleans. 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. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin arrives at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Nagin, who faces charges that he accepted bribes and free trips among other things from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin enters Federal Court in for jury selection and possible opening arguments for his corruption trial in New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Nagin is charged with accepting bribes, free trips and other gratuities from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work. The charges in his 21-count indictment, including bribery and wire fraud, are the product of a City Hall investigation that already has resulted in several convictions or guilty pleas by former Nagin associates. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin enters Federal Court in for jury selection and possible opening arguments for his corruption trial in New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Nagin is charged with accepting bribes, free trips and other gratuities from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work. The charges in his 21-count indictment, including bribery and wire fraud, are the product of a City Hall investigation that already has resulted in several convictions or guilty pleas by former Nagin associates. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin enters Federal Court in for jury selection and possible opening arguments for his corruption trial in New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Nagin is charged with accepting bribes, free trips and other gratuities from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work. The charges in his 21-count indictment, including bribery and wire fraud, are the product of a City Hall investigation that already has resulted in several convictions or guilty pleas by former Nagin associates. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Ray Nagin arrives at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin arrives at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Nagin, who faces charges that he accepted bribes and free trips among other things from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Ray Nagin arrives at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin arrives at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Nagin, who faces charges that he accepted bribes and free trips among other things from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Ray Nagin arrives at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin arrives at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Nagin, who faces charges that he accepted bribes and free trips among other things from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin watches as US President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall meeting October 15, 2009 at the University of New Orleans in New Orleans. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Mayor Ray Nagin talks about his new book, 'Katrina's Secrets,' at a news conference in New Orleans, Wednesday, June 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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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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