Story Summary

The federal case against former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

New_Orlean_Mayor_Ray_NaginA federal grand jury on Friday charged former Mayor Ray Nagin with 21 counts of public corruption, including bribery and fraud related to his dealings with city vendors following Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin was officially charged on February 20, 2013. He pleaded not guilty to all 21 counts.

His trial is scheduled to start April 29, 2013.

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This story has 9 updates

Ray Nagin and his defense team make their daily stroll across the park to the United States Courthouse where testimony in the federal case against the accused former New Orleans mayor picks up where prosecutors left off the day before.

Key witnesses the federal government brings to the stand are Nagin’s alleged partners in crime now testifying against him.

Already convicted , contractor Rodney Williams returned to the stand telling jurors he flat out bribed Nagin with lavish holidays and money.

When assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Coman asked Williams, “would you be here today had you not bribed the mayor?”

Williams answered,” No.”

Former city hall chief technology officer Greg Meffert, who also pleaded guilty for his part in accepting bribes, testified how city contractor Mark St. Pierre bank rolled much of the scheme.

Meffert also  told the jury Nagin signed an executive order allowing him  to issue city contracts to whoever he wanted.

The days final witness to take the stand is disaster management businessman Frank Fradella, also convicted for conspiring to bribe Nagin.

Fradella said he too arranged for elaborate trips for Nagin, which helped secure city contracts making his business four million dollars.

Fradella returns to the stand Monday for cross examination.

Thursday afternoon, a jury was seated in the federal corruption trial of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin.

Jurors also heard opening arguments from attorneys and testimony from prosecutors’ first witness in the case.

WGNO News reporter Tyler Wing reports.

News with a Twist
10/25/13

Nagin trial delay is a victory the former mayor should savor

It was a good day yesterday for ex-mayor Ray Nagin. A federal judge postponed Nagin’s trial for the 3rd time, pushing the start date back ‘til January 27.

Does the move change any of the facts in the case?  I don’t think so, but it does give the ex-mayor a little breathing room for the next 3 months.

Essentially, the ex-mayor gets some time.  The time definitely doesn’t help the Feds.  They have their case ready to go.  Seven witnesses and boxes of evidence.  The only thing time can do for the Feds is have something happen that helps Nagin.

The ex-mayor’s attorney, the very capable Robert Jenkins, will almost certainly file several motions over the next few weeks either looking to delay the trial indefinitely or even ask for a dismissal altogether.  And all the Feds can do is wait.

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next month and the Christmas and New Year holiday the following one, the 3 months will go by quickly.  Just maybe not quickly enough for those seeking justice.

Yesterday was a small break, a slight victory for the ex-mayor.  He should savor it.

News
10/24/13

Nagin granted trial delay

Judge Helen Berrigan granted a motion on Thursday morning to delay his bribery trial until January 27, 2014.

Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin’s bid to have his 21-count indictment thrown out was rejected by a federal judge Friday.

Nagin’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, argued the former mayor couldn’t receive a fair trial in the wake of a scandal over internet comments posted by prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Nagin’s trial is set to begin October 28.

Former mayor Ray Nagin is asking federal judge Ginger Berrigan to throw out his indictment on bribery charges because of what Nagin’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, calls prosecutorial misconduct in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

No ruling yet on that request, but Judge Berrigan has already denied a request to give Jenkins the Justice Department’s sealed report on those misconduct allegations.

See the court documents filed today by clicking these links:

Nagin document 79-main
Nagin document 79-1 Nagin document 79-2
Nagin document 79-3

News with a Twist
10/09/13

Will Ray Nagin go to trial or won’t he?

It’s crunch time.  Less than 3 weeks out.  October 28th is the day where ex-New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin goes to trial.  Or will he go to trial?   That’s the million dollar question that’s been asked for over a year now.

Will Ray Nagin go to trial at the end of this month?  Nagin is hoping he doesn’t go to trial ever.  His attorney Robert Jenkins has been working several different angles to get this trial postponed indefinitely.

Ironically, the Feds are hoping this thing doesn’t go to trial as well.  But unlike Nagin, the Feds aren’t looking for an indefinite postponement, they are looking for a guilty plea.

The clock is ticking.

Jenkins’ requests for a postponement are falling on deaf ears and the Feds are lining up their witnesses for an October 28th trial date.  Conventional wisdom says the ex-mayor will cop a guilty plea with the Feds in exchange for a lesser sentence, but more importantly, a promise from the Government that Nagin’s sons won’t be charged as well.

But here’s the wild card, we’re talking about C. Ray Nagin, and there’s nothing conventional about him.

October 28th is the day where ex-New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin goes to trial.  Or will he?   The next few weeks should be interesting.

On Friday afternoon, Federal Judge Helen Berrigan denied former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin’s request to delay his corruption trial.

Judge Berrigan cited “the utterly juvenile postings by various prosecutors and how much they demeaned their high offices” in her decision, “but an indictment, as the jury will be told, is not evidence of guilt. The jury, and only the jury, will decide whether the defendant is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The full text of Judge Berrigan’s decision:

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CRIMINAL ACTION

VERSUS NO. 13-11

C. RAY NAGIN, ETC. SECTION: C

ORDER

IT IS ORDERED that the motion for continuance of trial date filed by the defendanat is

DENIED. Rec. Doc. 27. The Court will consider a motion for a brief continuance if justified

on other grounds recognized under 18 U.S.C. §3161. If the defendant seeks any discovery, a

motion to that effect must be filed in accordance with the Local Rules.

The Court acknowledges the utterly juvenile postings by various prosecutors and how

much they demeaned their high offices in doing so. But an indictment, as the jury will be told,

is not evidence of guilt. The jury, and only the jury, will decide whether the defendant is

proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

___________________________

HELEN G. BERRIGAN

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

One day after Ray Nagin’s attorney asked a federal judge to indefinitely postpone the former mayor’s corruption trial, prosecutors filed their own documents which ask the judge to refuse the defense request.

Nagin’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, based the request on the blogging scandal within the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans.  Jenkins says some of the blogging focused on Nagin.  He also says the blogging may have damaged Nagin’s chances of receiving a fair trial.

In their response, federal prosecutors — along with asking the judge to deny the request — indicated that the New Orleans prosecutors accused of blogging and then-U.S. Attorney Jim Letten resigned their jobs before Nagin was indicted.

A judge is scheduled to hear the arguments on October 9th.

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