Former New Orleans mayor to start 10-year sentence for graft

(Reuters) - Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was due to report to federal prison on Monday to begin serving a 10-year sentence for corruption during the years when the city was struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin, a Democrat, was thrust into the national spotlight in 2005, when Katrina overwhelmed levees and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, killing 1,500 people and causing some $80 billion in damage.

He is due to serve his time at a federal prison in Texarkana, Texas, according to television station WDSU.

Nagin, 58, plans to appeal his conviction. He has said in court filings that he is nearly penniless, and has been granted a court-appointed lawyer.

The onetime cable company executive who served as New Orleans' mayor from 2002-2010 was convicted on 20 criminal counts including bribery, conspiracy and money laundering, all tied to payments he received for granting city contracts.

Seeking re-election in 2006, Nagin, a black politician who had enjoyed strong support from both black and white voters, seemed to adopt a racially divisive tone, urging residents to rebuild a "chocolate New Orleans," referring to its majority black population.

Under federal sentencing rules, Nagin would serve about 8-1/2 years in prison with good behavior.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky. Editing by Chris Micahud ad Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Former New Orleans Mayor Sentenced to 10 Years
Former New Orleans Mayor Sentenced to 10 Years