Bribed “Public Official A” Could Be Worst Kept Secret In Town

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After Rodney Williams made his 180 degree turn — pleading not guilty on Tuesday, then guilty on Wednesday to bribing “Public Official A” — his lawyer joked with reporters about who received the money.

“It’d be the worst, worst investigative reporter on the planet who couldn’t figure out who Public Official A is,” Ralph Capitelli said outside of federal court.

According to court documents, Williams is accused of spending more than $60,000 to bribe someone only identified as Public Official A in exchange for city contracts.  The Factual Basis document in the case goes on to state, “That power and authority (to award large contracts) rests with the City of New Orleans’ Chief Executive Officer, the mayor.”

williamsguiltyThe feds allege the bribes took place while Ray Nagin was mayor, but Nagin’s name appears nowhere in court documents.

Last June, another businessman, Frank Fradella, also pleaded guilty to bribing Public Official A.

Both cases involve payments of cash or other considerations involving granite or a granite company.  After Hurricane Katrina, Nagin and some of his family members operated a granite counter top company.

After Fradella’s plea, his attorney Randy Smith was asked about any possible Nagin connection.  He refused to identify Public Official A but said, ” If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck, right?”

Nagin has not been charged or accused of any crimes.  Williams faces up to five years in prison, but would most likely see a much lighter sentence for his cooperation in the investigation.

“The government is clearly aware of what my client will testify to,” Capitelli said.