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Federal investigator testifies about Nagin's city credit card spending

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - According to an investigator with the U.S. Treasury, former Mayor Ray Nagin frequently used his city of New Orleans American Express card for expensive meals, clothing and travel.

On the stand Tuesday, Spc. Agent Timothy Moore didn't suggest all the spending was improper, but he said much of it was.

In 2005, Moore testified, Nagin spent more than $55,000 on his city credit card - including a series of purchases just a few days after Hurricane Katrina: $1,000 at Dillards for clothing like knit polo shirts, and more than $300 at the Apple Store.

In 2006, the city credit card bill jumped to more than $73,000 - around $1,500 per week in spending, Moore said. There were meals - many of them on weekends, when Moore's investigation found no evidence of a connection to official city business.

According to the special agent's testimony, from 2005 to 2008, Nagin didn't report more than $343,000 in income. Moore said during that same four-year period, Nagin's additional taxes due amounted to $84,000.

On the stand, Moore frequently used the term "bribes" when describing some of the income.

Tuesday's proceedings ended with prosecutors wrapping up their direct examination.

"We'll just cross him tomorrow morning and keep going forward," Nagin's defense attorney Robert Jenkins said while walking away from court Tuesday evening.

Earlier Tuesday, prosecutors presented the jury with testimony and email evidence that Nagin pressured a national retail giant to do business with his family.
Ken Knutson, a lobbyist with The Home Depot, described Nagin, as well as community groups making demands on the retailer, as "shakedown artists" in testimony that centered on contracts the retailer granted to the ex-mayor's granite business.
Testimony and email evidence indicated Home Depot officials were wary of dealing with Nagin as they sought to build a new store in New Orleans. But Home Depot granted contracts to the business owned by Nagin and his sons.
Prosecutors say Nagin, as he sought contracts from the retailer, worked to curtail a community group's efforts to get an agreement with Home Depot to provide area residents jobs with health benefits and jobs at above market-rate wages. That agreement was never reached.
Home Depot has not been charged with wrongdoing in the case.
Tuesday's proceedings began with a city financial official telling jurors that a movie theater built in New Orleans East  paid the city back only a fraction of a $5 million loan that was used to develop it.
New Orleans Deputy Director of Finance Derrick Muse outlined more than $35,000 in penalties that Nagin waived for the theater business's overdue taxes.
On Monday, prosecution witnesses testified that an owner of the theater paid for a trip Nagin's family made to New York.
Nagin's indictment alleges he accepted $23,500 worth of airfare and limousine services as a reward for the penalty waiver and overdue loan payments. That allegation is part of a 21-count indictment against Nagin, a Democrat, who served as mayor from 2002 to 2010.
Prosecutors began presenting their case Thursday, calling former city contractors and other witnesses and producing numerous emails and documents aimed at proving the former mayor received money, free vacation travel and free granite for his family business- bribes worth more than $500,000 - for helping contractors receive millions of dollars' worth of city work.
Nagin also is accused of money laundering and filing false tax returns.


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