Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Found Guilty Of Corruption And Bribery
More than a year after his indictment, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted Wednesday of 20 counts of federal corruption. Now, Nagin could face over 20 years in prison. The original indictments came around after Nagin, who rose to national prominence after Hurricane Katrina hit his state, apparently accepted bribes including gifts, fancy trips, and checks for his son's company during Nagin's term as mayor. The ex-mayor was initially indicted with 21 counts, so maybe we could give him a short round of applause for getting off that last count of corruption?
The arguments in court lasted nine days and featured about 31 witnesses, with the jury deliberating for six and a half hours — with the knowledge that a conviction might set a precedent for future interpretations of the federal bribery statute. U.S. District Judge Ginger Barrigan presided over the trial.
A great deal of the jury's process came down to whether or not they determined that Nagin knowingly accepted the bribes and gifts. Or, if he just saw them as "a series of coincidences," as Tulane law professor Tania Tetlow told the Times-Picayune .
The jurors were explicitly told by Judge Barrigan: "All that must be shown is that payments were made with the intent of securing a specific type of official action in return."
Though Nagin has denied taking any bribes, prosecutors argued differently. They claimed Nagin had accepted over $500,000 in bribes since well before 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
Prosecutors also claimed that he accepted $60,000 from Three Fold Consulting, an engineering consulting firm that became one of the biggest crimes Nagin was found guilty of committing, in addition to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. The only count Nagin wasn't found guilty of was accepting $10,000 in bribes from a Three Fold Consultants principal. (Slow clap.)
A date for Nagin's sentencing hasn't yet been set.
The charges against Nagin came in the midst of a bad year for Western mayors. Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner plead guilty to three criminal charges, and was accused of sexual harassment by 19 women. Oh, and the infamous Rob Ford of Toronto embarrassed all of North America when he was accused of smoking crack, DUI, and threatening to kill a person on video.
Hopefully, 2014 will bring fewer incidents of mayoral zaniness and criminal acts, right?
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