The federal corruption trial for former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin began on Thursday. The trial kicked off with former city contractor Rodney Williams who said he paid Nagin and Nagin’s sons a total of $60,000 in bribes in exchange for city contracts worth $2.6 million.
According to the Times Picayune, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Coman laid out the prosecutions case in the opening arguments:
“Over several years documented by the prosecution, Coman said, Nagin gathered $511,000 in “illegal proceeds” and in the process robbed the city and its citizens of his “honest services.”
The 21-page indictment details not only cash bribes but vacations, limousines, use of private jets and materials for Nagin’s granite business. Nagin’s defense team contends that the government’s witness are not to be trusted and that the evidence is deceiving.
Nagin, who was the New Orleans mayor from 2002-2010, came to national prominence during Hurricane Katrina. Nine years after that disaster, New Orleans is still trying to recover. If Nagin was in fact basking in bribes and luxury goods during his time in office, that would be especially hard to take for the struggling residents of the Crescent City, many of whom lost homes and loved ones in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The trial resumes today with the defense cross examining Williams. If convicted, Nagin would join the likes of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison after his federal corruption trial. Like New Orleans, Detroit is struggling to return to its past glory.
Some say black politicians are scrutinized more heavily than their white counterparts and are punished more severely than their equally dastardly white colleagues. Do you think black politicians are treated unfairly in the justice system?