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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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argonauta4 February 13 2014 at 2:49 PM



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Noah February 13 2014 at 1:44 PM

What a shame. Instead of saying "I didn't know", he should have blamed somebody. Ask Oblamer. George Bush is always handy.

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redbirdgunparts February 13 2014 at 1:02 PM

35 years in jail will not be enough - send a clear message to these groverning thiefs - that any lieing cheating ass moron mayor needs more time in jail than any drug dealer!!

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Rick February 13 2014 at 12:39 PM

what about all those Fema trailers left out to rot??? Investigate the hell out of all that Fema crap!!!

Investigate the politicians to the nth degree..watch Ray only get a few years....if it were ur son on drugs he's be put away a long time..watch what they do!!!!!! Cops too get off when found guilty..the entire system needs to be done ...done right!!! Too much room for corrupt nesssssssssss!

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npc317 February 13 2014 at 1:35 PM

Your right. The legal system needs a complete overhall. The whole dam system is set up to fail. It brings the money in and builds resumes.

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Rick February 13 2014 at 12:37 PM

You have to Sign In first to leave a comment.

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david77james February 13 2014 at 12:11 PM

So sad to see just one more man come to ruin because all he is able to see is the visible world in front of his eyes, so he goes on a frantic search for happiness, which no man can ever attain.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all else will be added unto you.

But, first one has to recognize that God exists, and that Jesus Christ paved the way for you to attain eternal life, through simple faith in Him, which you are guaranteed by such faith after this brief life that the Bible calls "a vapor"

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elkhartbiker February 13 2014 at 11:29 AM

This waste of skin will most likely be sentenced to a country club federal "prison" and stay there a couple of years before some jerk like Eric Holder lets him out.

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Bob February 13 2014 at 11:21 AM

Is this really hard to believe from some of you?? Man, we are in Louisiana here!!!!! This guy just did it on a too big of scale and drew too much attention!! Thats the only difference between him and millions of others here in this place.

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Bob February 13 2014 at 11:17 AM

Is it a typo or did they say he is a democrat??? Someone please say its not true!!!!!! lol

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bellingersfamily February 13 2014 at 11:17 AM

He still looks "clean" compared to HILLARY....

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