Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, the businessman-turned-politician who became the worldwide face of the city after Hurricane Katrina, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday.

Nagin, 58, was ordered to report to federal prison Sept. 8. Nagin, also ordered to pay restitution of $82,000, was found guilty Feb. 12 of fraud, bribery and related charges involving crimes that took place before and after Katrina devastated the city in August 2005.

Nagin, based on sentencing guidelines, had faced a possible sentence of 12 to 30 years.

A jury convicted Nagin of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes — money, free vacation trips and truckloads of free granite for his family business — from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin’s support for various hurricane recovery projects.

Prosecutors asked the court to send Nagin to prison for a long time. They argued that he was found guilty of 20 of 21 counts in the indictment, and that he participated in and orchestrated a years-long conspiracy to enrich himself and his family.

The government also argued that Nagin spent years covering up his crimes and that his testimony during the two-week trial showed an “astounding unwillingness to accept any responsibility for his actions.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Coman compared Nagin’s crimes with those of other public officials who drew stiff sentences, including former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (28 years), former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (14 years) and former Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Larry Langford (15 years).

“Nagin’s widespread and corrosive breach of the public trust – lasting through much of his tenure in office – equals even the worst of these state and local corruption cases,” Coman wrote.

Nagin’s defense attorney Robert Jenkins petitioned the court for a lighter sentence. He argued that his client is a first time offender with no criminal record.

Jenkins also argued that the allegations and evidence presented during the trial are a complete aberration to his otherwise outstanding life as a businessman, family member and citizen.

“Mr. Nagin has been a devoted father, husband, and supportive child to his parents, and greatly cares for the well being of his family, and is their caretaker,” Jenkins wrote.

According to Jenkins, a 20-year sentence would amount to a “virtual life sentence.”

Jenkins noted that former governor Edwin Edwards received a 10-year sentence in a public corruption scheme that netted up to $5 million dollars in ill gotten gain.

The court previously calculated Nagin’s take at more than $500,000.

Nagin received several letters of support, including from members of his family. His wife Seletha asked for Nagin to remain out of jail until allegations of prosecutorial misconduct can be fully investigated.

“I am asking that you delay these sentencing proceedings until we are allowed to see all the reports that have thus far only been summarized but clearly show a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct,” Seletha Nagin wrote.

The letter by Nagin’s wife also details the family’s financial ruin and personal anguish.

“We are mentally and financially drained,” she wrote in her four-page letter dated July 1. “We have exhausted our savings, borrowed from family, gone on public assistance (for the first time ever) and even had to file bankruptcy to avoid being homeless. We have even sold much of our furniture and all of our jewelry with the exception of our wedding rings.”




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  • all of these “politicians” are crooks..its just a matter of which ones get caught

  • They threw the book at him!

    • Seriously Natural

      They really did!

    • Guest

      the max is thirty years, he made out with 10. I don’t think that is throwing the book at him.

    • binks

      Not really, Knotty. He got off easy. I was just looking at it on my local news and he could have gotten more time but the judge was lenient on him. Hell, there are some people now that is angry that he didn’t get more time.

    • I realize he could have gotten more time, but 10 years is a long time and at 58 years old, it’s even longer! IMO, that’s throwing the book at him and as he was a politician who disgraced his position so he deserves it!

  • shybookworm

    Hmmm…did any of the police officers who shot and killed black people at will during Katrina get 10 years? I’m not saying Nagin doesn’t deserve time for his crimes, but at least he didn’t kill anyone.

    • Tonididitonem

      Ummmm no. That’s the wrong line of thinking

    • shybookworm

      In what way? I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve to go to jail–he does. My point is accepting bribes and fixing contracts to line one’s pockets is less of a crime than actually seeking out black people who were trying to find safety and shelter, and being shot on sight by racist cops. If my memory is correct, many officers got off with expulsions or suspensions from the police force, and if they were convicted, their punishment wasn’t comparable to the crime like Nagin’s sentencing.

  • GeekMommaRants

    I will never understand how any black person who wins an election then seeks illegal schemes that will land them in jail. This is not racism, this is stupidity.

  • Tonididitonem

    Always black politicians smh