Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, 58, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison this week for bribery, money laundering and other corruption throughout his two terms as mayor which included the two 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 his support for various work projects. The bribes came in many forms ranging from cash money and vacations to free granite for his family business.
He had previously denied any wrongdoing after his 2013 indictment and during his February trial.
Nagin was a political newcomer when he won election as New Orleans’ mayor, succeeding the popular Marc Morial in 2002. He ran on the platform of being a reformer and announced crackdowns on corruption in the city’s automobile-inspection and taxi-permit programs. But, according to federal prosecutors, his own corrupt acts began during his first term, continued through the Katrina catastrophe and was at its peak in his second term.
Until the negativity surfaced surrounding his indictment in 2013, he was perhaps best known for a widely heard radio interview in which he angrily, and sometimes profanely, asked for stepped-up federal response in the days after levee breaches flooded most of the city during Katrina.
Ray Nagin was first elected in 2002 with strong support from a diverse pool of voters. He was re-elected in 2006 with a campaign that some viewed as him playing on fears among black voters that they were being left out of the city’s spotty recovery. He was succeeded in 2010 by Mitch Landrieu.
Most government pre-sentence reports and recommendations were not made public but a filing by Jenkins ahead of the sentencing hearing indicated prosecutors were pushing for a sentence of 20 years or more under federal sentencing guidelines.
Defense attorney Robert Jenkins said that would amount to a virtual life sentence for the former mayor. He added that Nagin’s family needs him, there is no danger of Nagin committing more crimes and that the crimes for which Nagin was convicted constituted an aberration from an otherwise model life.
According to prosecutors, the schemes that led to Nagin’s conviction included his two grown sons who were never charged with a crime but they were part of the family business that received free granite from a contractor.