Ray Nagin, the former Democratic Mayor of New Orleans, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Wednesday for corruption. In February, Nagin was found guilty on 20 counts of bribery and fraud, which included money laundering, conspiracy, tax evasion, and wire fraud. He initially faced 20 years in prison.
A former TV executive for Cox Communications, Nagin served as mayor of the "Crescent City" from 2002 to 2010 and helped guide residents through the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005—although many locals soon became angered by slow recovery efforts and Nagin's weakening reliability as a public official. A Times report from February noted:
During his time on the witness stand, Mr. Nagin brought up Katrina several times, talking about how much work there was to be done in the recovery, how demanding his job was and how much pressure was put on the daily business of the city. But prosecutors turned this around, asking Mr. Nagin how he could eat expensive meals on the city credit card, or help a businessman get rid of steep tax bills in return for a trip on a private jet, when residents were hurting so badly. They also pointed out that some of the schemes predated the storm and continued after he left office in 2010.
Before handing down Nagin's sentence, Judge Ginger Berrigan said to the packed courtroom: "The seriousness of Mr. Nagin's offenses can hardly be overstated... Nowhere is this more harmful than the city of New Orleans where the perception of public corruption stubbornly persists. The court is convinced that Mr. Nagin cannot regain the public's trust ever again... Nagin's crimes were serious. A major betrayal for a city recovering from Katrina. But he is not a great danger going forward."
Although ex-Louisiana officials have been charged for various crimes in years past, Nagin is the first mayor of New Orleans to be convicted for corruption. He will report to a minimum security prison in Oakdale, Louisiana on September 8th.
[Image via AP]