Katrina crisis mayor Ray Nagin jailed for 10 years

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaves federal court after being sentenced in New Orleans. Photo / AP
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaves federal court after being sentenced in New Orleans. Photo / AP

A former New Orleans mayor who sprang to prominence for his handling of Hurricane Katrina was sentenced to 10 years in a US prison for bribery and corruption.

Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans from 2002 to 2010, was also ordered to pay $84,264 in restitution after he was found guilty in February on 20 counts of conspiracy, bribery, honest services wire fraud, money laundering and tax violations.

Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said Nagin's jailing "brings to a close a sordid chapter in New Orleans' history in which the man charged with leading a city out of crisis instead chose to enrich himself, his family and friends."

Nagin, a 58-year-old Democrat, had been a beloved figure in the Big Easy despite his botched initial response to the devastating storm, which flooded the low-lying coastal city and killed more than 1,800 people across the US Gulf Coast in 2005.

But a jury in February found that Nagin was accepting bribes and soliciting kickbacks months before the hurricane and continued to line his pockets for years afterwards, racking up illicit gains of $500,000.

The kickbacks received in exchange for favorable treatment on city contracts were laundered through Nagin's granite counter company and also came in the form of cash and trips on corporate jets.

FBI Special Agent Michael Anderson said: "Given the nature and extent of former mayor Nagin's criminal conduct and betrayal of public trust over the course of several years, hopefully this result will bring at least some level of resolution to the city and its residents."

Nagin had protested his innocence, but Richard Weber, of the criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service, said: "In February, a jury of New Orleans citizens sent Mr. Nagin the message, loud and clear, that public officials will be held accountable for public corruption and criminal activity.

"Today's sentence confirms that message -- public servants are elected to serve the public, not benefit from the position. No one is above the law."

- AFP

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