Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin – who was catapulted into the national spotlight following Hurricane Katrina – has been convicted of accepting bribes and free trips from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work during his time in office – including before and after the deadly storm.
After nine days of testimony, the federal jury on Wednesday delivered guilty verdicts on 20 of 21 counts, including for conspiracy, wire fraud and filing false tax returns.
Nagin, a Democrat who served as mayor from 2002 to 2010, now faces more than 20 years behind bars.
Prosecutors argued Nagin accepted more than $500,000 worth of bribes during his time in office. That includes accepting $60,000 from engineering firm Three Fold Consulting and $50,000 from a company called Home Solutions in exchange for special treatment. Prosecutors also said Nagin received lawn care, a birthday party, and trips to Hawaii, Jamaica, New York City, and Las Vegas.
Nagin, 57, became a national star in the aftermath of the 2005 storm, going on television to beg for help and to skewer the federal government for its slow response in the days after the hurricane. He was easily elected in 2002 but won re-election by a narrow margin in 2006 and in consequent years came under fire for the slow recovery efforts. His term was limited by the law and he left office in 2010.
According to New Orleans’ WDSU, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan ordered Nagin – who kept his head down as the verdict was read – to go under house incarceration until he is sentenced. A sentencing date has not been set.