Defense begins for ex-New Orleans mayor's trial

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The defense in the federal corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has begun trying to show jurors that Nagin had little control in awarding city contracts.

The defense on Thursday called Nagin's former public works director, Robert Mendoza, and his former chief administrator, Brenda Hatfield, trying to show that Nagin had little or no influence in contracts awarded through a bid process.

Prosecutors countered by focusing on no-bid contracts for professional services. Under cross-examination, Hatfield acknowledged that Nagin used executive orders in 2008 and 2009 giving him more leeway to select contractors.

Morning testimony often centered on contracts for the company of Rodney Williams - who has testified that he bribed Nagin.

Democrat Nagin was indicted on 21 criminal counts after leaving office in 2010.

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