Former NOLA mayor found guilty of bribery, fraud, laundering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

So it turns out that Ray Nagin, the Democratic ex-mayor of New Orleans best known for his furious denunciations of the Bush administration in their response to Hurricane Katrina, wasn’t exactly acting with the city’s best interests at heart himself. The guy left office in 2010 with bottom-of-the-barrel approval ratings and insisted that he wouldn’t be running for political office again — and I think this just about seals the deal on that. The sentencing is still to come, but each of the 20 charges of which he was convicted carries a sentence of at least several years, and he could be looking at a nice long prison term. Via CNN:

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, whose desperate pleas for help during Hurricane Katrina drew national attention, walked silently out of a courthouse Wednesday after a jury convicted him of federal corruption charges.

Nagin was elected as a reformer in 2002. But after a two-week trial that began in late January, he was found guilty of 20 out of 21 counts of bribery, money laundering, fraud and filing false tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The sole acquittal was on one of the bribery counts. …

The charges 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 cash for Nagin and his family won more than $5 million in city contracts, according to the January 2013 indictment.

In a nutshell, he used the opportunity of the Katrina recovery effort to kick city contracts back to any vendors that offered to sweeten the deal, while simultaneously blustering about the incompetence and corruption of everybody else’s post-Katrina commitment. What a swell guy.

“The quantum of damages will be interesting here,” he said. “How much suffering there was, how much illicit wealth he accumulated, that’s what the judge will look at when deciding how to sentence.”

He’s facing 120 years, but will probably get around 20, Napolitano said.

When he left court, Nagin told reporters that it was not a fair verdict and that he maintains his innocence. His lawyer said they would appeal the decision.

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