Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been found guilty of corruption.
After deliberating for over six hours, jurors decided that Nagin had accepted over $500,000 in benefits in exchange for millions of dollars in city contract work.
The verdict came after a seven-day trial, during which more than 30 witnesses testified, including some businessmen who had pleaded guilty to bribing Mr. Nagin in return for contracting work with the city. The most compelling days of the trial, and the ones that filled a courtroom that was half-empty most of the time, were those when Mr. Nagin himself took the stand, sparring with the prosecutor and dismissing the charges against him as misleading and misinformed.
With multiple witnesses and an extensive paper trial, federal prosecutors described a sequence of transactions between the mayor and various business interests, all following a similar pattern. The owner of a company would be trying to get city work, and would at some point make contact with Mr. Nagin. Mr. Nagin would ask for a favor, often in the form of payments to the granite countertop business Mr. Nagin ran with his two sons.
Cash wasn’t the only perk received by Nagin. Trips to Jamaica, Hawaii and Chicago, along with free cell service for his family was also on the list. At the same time, the businessman would be awarded contracts for city projects, or would find that certain obstacles had disappeared.
Nagin faces up to 20 years in prison.
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