On Wednesday New Orleans’ former mayor Ray Nagin (shown in white shirt) was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after being convicted on 20 of 21 felony charges ranging from bribery to conspiracy to wire fraud to money laundering to filing false income tax returns. Not included were charges of over-acting and hypocrisy.
In acting the part of innocence betrayed, Nagin said:
In my opinion I’ve been targeted, smeared, tarnished … for some reason some of the stances I took after Katrina didn’t sit well with some very powerful people. So now I’m paying the price for that.
The prosecutors were fairly magical in their ability to take something that supposedly happened and paint it as reality when it didn’t really happen.
Serving as mayor of New Orleans from 2002 to 2010, Nagin generated controversy over his handling of the crisis the city faced during Hurricane Katrina, which hit the city in late August 2005. Reluctant to issue the first mandatory evacuation in the city’s history, Nagin was held responsible for at least some of the 1,800 deaths and more than $100 billion of damage inflicted by the storm.
During his second term, his image as mayor began to unravel. In April 2009, a local paper alleged certain specific conflicts of interest with regards to trips taken by Nagin and paid for by Greg Meffert, who at the time was Nagin’s chief technology officer. Meffert was found later to be working a lucrative kickback scheme with business owners seeking city contracts to help rebuild the city. Meffert was charged with 63 felony counts of corruption.
The same paper in June 2012 unveiled more criminal behavior with its disclosure that another businessman seeking favors had not only paid Nagin $50,000 in exchange for favorable treatment by the city but also delivered truckloads of granite — gratis — to Nagin’s sons’ countertop business, Stone Age, LLC. By the time the long list of corruption was tallied by federal prosecutors, Nagin was charged with receiving more than $500,000 in cash payments in exchange for $5 million worth of city contracts.
Neither before or after the trial did Nagin mention his staggering hypocrisy. Shortly after taking office as mayor in May 2002, he mounted an anti-corruption campaign within New Orleans’ city government. His efforts received national attention after television stations across the land broadcast live video of corrupt city officials being led away in handcuffs. He received additional acclaim when asked if he would order the arrest of his cousin who was implicated in one of the scandals. Responded Nagin: “If he’s guilty, arrest him.” His cousin was later arrested.
When Nagin's sentence of 10 years behind bars was announced, it was met with outrage by the federal prosecutors who had sought a 20-year term. Said Matthew Coman, assistant United States Attorney:
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