Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Anybody Remember Mayor Ray Nagin Mayor of "Chocolate City" ?

Why does ole Ray look so glum?

Ray Nagin came into the mayor's office in New Orleans as an avowed scourge of corruption and led the city through the worst disaster of its modern history.

He left a federal courthouse a convict, after a jury found him guilty of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and other favors from businessmen looking for a break from his administration. Of the 21 counts against him, he was convicted of 20.

"He got a lot of media attention as being a reformer, a non-politician, first run for office -- a businessman who was going to come in and get it right," said Pat Fanning, a veteran New Orleans lawyer and no fan of the former two-term mayor.

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, the onetime cable television executive would reassure people queasy about sending taxpayer money to a state with an epic history of corruption by telling them, "Google me. You're not going to find any of that in my record," Fanning said, quoting Nagin. "Well, Google him now."

Nagin, who left office in 2010, had little to say as he left the courthouse Wednesday afternoon, telling reporters only, "I maintain my innocence." A small knot of supporters yelled, "Keep your head up" and "He's just a patsy," CNN affiliate WDSU reported.

His lead attorney, Robert Jenkins, told reporters his client would appeal the verdict.

"We did the best we could do," Jenkins said.

Prosecutors argued the 57-year-old Nagin was at the center of a kickback scheme in which he received checks, cash, wire transfers, personal services and free travel from businessmen seeking contracts and favorable treatment from the city. He faces up to 20 years in prison, but Fanning said a 14- to 17-year term was more likely.

A January 2013 indictment detailed more than $200,000 in bribes to the mayor, and his family members allegedly received a vacation in Hawaii; first-class airfare to Jamaica; private jet travel and a limousine for New York City; and cellular phone service. In exchange, businesses that coughed up for Nagin and his family won more than $5 million in city contracts, according to the January 2013 indictment.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors brought to the stand a string of businessmen who had already pleaded guilty to bribing Nagin. His defense did little to challenge their stories, Fanning said.

"It was too painful actually to watch. They just swamped him," he said. And when Nagin took the stand in his own defense, "He did a belly flop," often answering questions on cross-examination by saying he couldn't recall who paid for a trip or perk.

Read More: CNN