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Ex-Mayor Nagin (D) Goes On Trial For Bribery

From the Associated Press:

Ex-Mayor Nagin goes on trial for bribery charges

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and KEVIN McGILL | January 26, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who led the city during its darkest days after Hurricane Katrina, will be thrust back into the spotlight this week when he goes on trial in a corruption case that mushroomed at the end of his eight-year tenure.

Even before the allegations, Nagin’s popularity steadily eroded as the city struggled to recover from Katrina’s devastation, and he has kept a low profile since leaving office in 2010. Nagin was living in a Dallas suburb when a grand jury indicted him a year ago on charges he accepted free trips and more than $200,000 in bribes from contractors in exchange for helping them secure lucrative city contracts.

Wonder if this case will get as much press as say, a governor’s aides closing a couple of lanes to a bridge? Or a couple accepting a Rolex watch and a ‘joy ride’ in a Ferrari.

The investigation has already produced convictions or guilty pleas by former Nagin associates who could be key prosecution witnesses at the trial, which is scheduled to start Monday with jury selection.

Nagin’s 21-count indictment includes bribery and wire fraud charges, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years and 20 years in prison, respectively

More than a year before he left office, the Democrat vowed that he would retire from politics at the end of his second term. He kept that promise, surfacing only occasionally for speaking engagements and to promote a self-published memoir about his Katrina experiences…

Notice how the AP refrains from mentioning Nagin’s political affiliation until the fifth paragraph of their article.

A former cable television executive, Nagin was an unknown political novice before he was elected mayor in 2002 with a promise to crack down on corruption…

It was ever thus.

Then came the 2005 storm. His blunt words and occasionally cringe-inducing remarks helped make him one of the nation’s most recognizable mayors, but he also became a divisive figure in the city.

Huh? All we remember is how the news media loved Mayor Nagin.

In 2006, Nagin famously declared that the slowly repopulating city would be "chocolate" again, playing to black residents’ fears that they would get short shrift during the recovery process…

And the media defended that comment, too. In fact, they loved it.

After receiving 38 percent of the black vote in 2002, he got 90 percent in 2006, helping him defeat then-Lt. Gov. Landrieu in a runoff.

But his popularity, as measured in a University of New Orleans poll, plummeted to 24 percent during a second term marred by the slow recovery, the mounting federal investigation and a contentious relationship with the City Council.

Many recovery plans seemed incomplete. Nagin’s recovery chief, Ed Blakely, had vowed that New Orleans residents would see "cranes in the sky," but promises of progress never seemed to materialize.

"He would come up with these ideas, but never really follow through," Ed Chervenak, [a political science professor at the University of New Orleans,] said.

[Clancy Dubos, co-owner and political columnist at the Gambit weekly newspaper in New Orleans] said Nagin didn’t have anybody around him who knew government…

All of that sounds vaguely familiar. Don’t we have a someone in the White House who sounds a little like Ray Nagin?

Nagin’s indictment says he accepted more than $160,000 in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of local businessman Frank Fradella. Nagin also was charged with accepting at least $60,000 in payoffs from another businessman, Rodney Williams, for his help in securing city contracts.

Fradella pleaded guilty in June 2012 to conspiracy to commit bribery. Williams pleaded guilty in December 2012 to a conspiracy charge.

From several city contractors, Nagin accepted free travel and vacation expenses for trips to Hawaii, Chicago, Las Vegas and Jamaica while in office, according to his indictment.

Nagin also is accused of getting free private jet and limousine services to New York from a businessman who owned a New Orleans movie theater. Nagin was accused of agreeing to waive tax penalties the businessman owed to the city on a delinquent tax bill in 2006.

The allegations aren’t limited to his tenure as mayor. Prosecutors said Nagin accepted monthly payoffs from Fradella totaling $112,250 after he left office…

Of course, Obama would never bother with such small potatoes.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, January 27th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

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