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Federal prosecutors painted Nagin as a hustler

Federal prosecutors told jurors right off the bat they would prove that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was a corrupt mayor who took bribes, payoffs, free vacations, and even granite from city vendors in exchange for lucrative city contracts.

Prosecutors would lay out their case over seven days of testimony.

During the first day of testimony, businessman Rodney Williams told jurors he bribed the mayor for more than $2.5 million worth of city contracts.  Williams is the former president of Three Fold Consultants LLC.  He detailed a $60,000 bribe, disguised as an investment in Stone Age LLC, a granite and marble company founded by Nagin and his two sons in 2005.

He testified about another $10,000 payoff after Three Fold Consultants LLC got a $1 million contract from the City of New Orleans.

The prosecution put Nagin's former chief technology officer on the stand on day two.  Meffert told the court he hired Mark St. Pierre's companies to do millions of dollars worth of technology work for the city after Nagin allowed him to skirt public bid rules.

Meffert detailed what the former mayor got in return from St. Pierre, including free cell phone service for his family, free vacations to Hawaii, Jamaica, and Chicago, free lawn care and hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions

Nagin's defense would try to counter the allegations by questioning the credibility of the witnesses. "We heard the testimony today and many of their witnesses have baggage," said Nagin's attorney, Robert Jenkins.

Later that day, Frank Fradella took the stand.  The disaster recovery contractor from Covington, who owned Home Solutions of America, testified that Nagin asked him for $100,000, but he agreed to pay $50,000 and later sent tons of free granite to Stone Age.

Fradella said he too was awarded more than $3 million in contracts, from the French Quarter to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, although some were through the public bid process.

Fradella said he also helped secure a lighting contract for another company that Nagin later received $500,000 worth of shares of stock as well as a consulting job. 

Three different witnesses gave testimony that followed the same damaging theme.

"The defense is not scoring points on cross-examination and the prosecution keeps bludgeoning them with different people telling the same basic story," said FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joseph Raspanti.  "Nagin is hustling them for money in exchange for city contracts."

Jenkins tried to show all three co-conspirators were coerced by the government to testify in exchange for leniency.

On the third day of testimony, prosecutors turned their focus to a New Orleans East theater wiped out in Hurricane Katrina.  Former city workers under Nagin told jurors he loaned the developer federal money, then gave George Solomon a waiver for delinquent back taxes, even though Solomon had not paid back the city.

In return, prosecutors alleged Solomon paid for Nagin and his family to fly to New York in a private jet with a limo to get around town.

On day four, a Home Depot executive elaborated on an email where he referred to Nagin as a shakedown artist.  That executive and other employees, both former and current, told jurors Nagin offered his support for the Home Depot project in Central City after Hurricane Katrina, but also wanted the retailer to make Stone Age LLC a supplier, which Home Depot did in 2007.

Days five and six, IRS agent Timothy Moore broke down the tax allegations, saying between 2005 and 2008 his documentation shows Nagin failed to report more than $342,000 in income.

He also told the jury, for that same time period, the former mayor used his city credit card for at least $173,0000 in personal purchases.

"This case is not a 'he said, she said' case," Raspanti said. "This is backed up by documentary evidence.  So, the witnesses from the prosecution said something, but then they showed how it matched with what's on that screen and that's very effective."

In all, the prosecution put on more than 2 dozen witnesses aimed at proving Nagin's guilt.

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