Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
NEW ORLEANS - Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted Friday on charges that he used his office for personal gain, accepting payoffs,
free trips and gratuities from contractors while the city was
struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
charges against Nagin are the outgrowth of a City Hall corruption
investigation that already has resulted in guilty pleas by two former
city officials and two businessmen and a prison sentence for a former
The federal indictment accuses Nagin of
accepting more than $160,000 in bribes and truckloads of free granite
for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of a
local businessman who secured millions of dollars in city contract work
after the 2005 hurricane. The businessman, Frank Fradella, pleaded
guilty in June to bribery conspiracy and securities-fraud charges and
has been cooperating with federal authorities.
also is charged with accepting at least $60,000 in payoffs from another
businessman, Rodney Williams, for his help in securing city contracts
for architectural, engineering and management services work. Williams,
who was president of Three Fold Consultants LLC, pleaded guilty Dec. 5
to a conspiracy charge.
The indictment also accuses Nagin
of getting free private jet and limousine services to New York from an
unidentified businessman. Nagin is accused of agreeing to wave tax
penalties that the businessman owed to the city on a delinquent tax bill
In 2010, Greg Meffert, a former technology
official and deputy mayor under Nagin, pleaded guilty to charges he took
bribes and kickbacks in exchange for steering city contracts to
businessman Mark St. Pierre. Anthony Jones, who served as the city's
chief technology officer in Nagin's administration, also pleaded guilty
to taking payoffs.
Meffert cooperated with the government
in its case against St. Pierre, who was convicted in May 2011 of charges
that include conspiracy, bribery and money laundering.
a former cable television executive, was a political novice before
being elected to his first term as mayor in 2002, buoyed by strong
support from white voters. He cast himself a reform-minded progressive
who wasn't bound by party affiliations, as he snubbed fellow Democrat
Kathleen Blanco and endorsed Republican Bobby Jindal's unsuccessful
gubernatorial campaign in 2003.
Katrina elevated Nagin to the national stage, where he gained a reputation for colorful and sometimes cringe-inducing rhetoric.
a radio interview broadcast in the storm's early aftermath, he angrily
pleaded with federal officials to "get every doggone Greyhound bus line
in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans." In January
2006, he apologized for a Martin Luther King Day speech in which he
predicted New Orleans would be a "chocolate city" and asserted that "God
was mad at America."
Strong support from black voters
helped Nagin win re-election in 2006 despite widespread criticism of his
post-Katrina leadership. But the glacial pace of rebuilding, a surge in
violent crime and the budding City Hall corruption investigation
chipped away at Nagin's popularity during his second term.
could not seek a third consecutive term because of term limits. Mitch
Landrieu, who ran against Nagin in 2006, succeeded him in 2010.
Bennett, a businessman awaiting sentencing in a separate bribery case,
told The Times-Picayune that he introduced Nagin to Fradella
specifically to help the mayor get Home Depot granite installation work
for a business that he and his sons founded. Fradella's company received
millions of dollars in city contracts for repair work at Louis
Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and in the French Quarter
after Katrina, the newspaper reported.
Some of the
allegations in the indictment have been the subject of state ethics
complaints. In April 2010, the Louisiana Board of Ethics charged Nagin
with two possible violations of state ethics law.
charge involves Nagin's "use of a credit card and/or gifts" from St.
Pierre and his technology firm, NetMethods, while the company was
working for the city. NetMethods paid for Nagin and his family to travel
to Jamaica in 2005 and to Hawaii in 2004, according to newspaper
In the other charge, the Ethics Board says Stone
Age LLC, the Nagin family's business, was compensated for installation
services provided to Home Depot while the home improvement retailer was
negotiating tax breaks from the city.
Nagin has largely