Ray Nagin indicted
Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, who rose to national prominence by blaming the Bush administration for his own incompetence in preparing for and handling Hurricane Katrina, has been indicted by a federal grand jury , Gordon Russell of NOLA.com writes that the indictment contains:
21 counts of corruption, alleging that while in office, Nagin took cash bribes and gifts from three city contractors and used his power as mayor to leverage a granite installation contract from Home Depot as the retailer was building a store in Central City. Despite New Orleans' reputation for political shenanigans, Nagin is the first mayor in the city's history to be indicted by a grand jury on corruption charges.
Interestingly, like so many other former residents of the Big Easy, Nagin moved to Texas when his term in office was over.
Reportedly, Nagin turned down a plea bargain:
Earlier this week, New Orleans TV affiliate WWLTV reported that Nagin turned down a plea deal.
"His position has always been consistent that he's done nothing improper," Nagin's attorney Robert Jenkins told the station.
The amounts of money involved are not trivial:
According to NPR, one businessman told a federal court in December that he gave more than $72,000 in bribes to Nagin in exchange for help winning engineering contracts. Other contractors allegedly paid bribes ranging in amount from $2,250 to $60,000.
The wire fraud charges stem from alleged transfers of $12,500 each, which were bribes or kickback payoffs from a single city construction contractor in both 2010 and 2011, according to the indictment. He is also accused of filing false tax returns from 2005 to 2008.
The national media, which enthusiastically blamed FEMA and Bush for not immediately solving every problem related to Katrina, may find the story of the trial of the onetime martyr to be of little interest. As the story of corruption and incompetence by a Democrat unfolds in court, the Republican governor of the state of Louisiana is planning to abolish the state income tax and bring economic vigor back to a state that has for too long been synonymous with political corruption and economic stagnation.