Lee Zurik Investigation: Nagin apparently lied in calendar testimony

A portion of Ray Nagin's official 2008 calendar as provided to FOX 8 News
A portion of Ray Nagin's official 2008 calendar as provided to FOX 8 News

An email from a former attorney for the City of New Orleans contradicts statements made by Ray Nagin and his defense team during his federal corruption trial.

"This looks like this bolsters the prosecution's position that he was not telling the truth on the witness stand," says FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

During the trial, Nagin's attorney said the city had refused to hand over emails and a calendar because Nagin and his aides didn't like this reporter, the person making the request.

"They sent it to Lee Zurik like that because they didn't like him," said Nagin attorney Robert Jenkins at one point in the trial.

This reporter sued for the former mayor's official 2008 calendar, and a judge ordered the administration to turn it over. But the version handed over was heavily redacted.

City Council Chief of Staff Evelyn Pugh used to work in the city attorney's office, and she handled public records requests during the Nagin administration. When we asked her by phone if their dislike led to the rejection of this request, she replied, "That is not true... that never crossed my mind."

City attorney Penya Moses-Fields added by email, "I am not aware of any personal likes or dislikes that would have been a factor in how responses to your public records requests were handled."

Pugh and Moses-Fields also contradicted Nagin's testimony from the stand. Nagin suggested the city attorney's office handled redactions of his calendar, blacking out meetings. But Pugh told us she had "nothing to do with redacting the mayor's calendar."

Moses-Fields said she didn't know who made the redactions but she wrote, "No redactions could be made at all without input from the mayor's office."

"In a situation like this where you're redacting certain personal issues, there's only one person that can fully determine when something's personal or not," Raspanti insists. "And that's the person who says, 'This applies to me and me alone.' So Ray Nagin, by definition, would had to have input as to what and what not to redact. Those women would never have say, 'OK, I'm going to scratch this out and not this' - they don't have the information."

The redacted calendars had letters assigned to each blacked-out entry. During the trial, the prosecution showed Nagin one such calendar entry. Nagin said the "P" stood for Penya Moses-Fields and the "EP" for Evelyn Pugh, and he stated that those initials likely showed they made the redactions.

But back in 2009, the city supplied us with a key code that clearly stated "P" did not stand for Penya, but rather for personal exception. "EP" indicated "executive privilege," not "Evelyn Pugh."

Raspanti says, "It shows how sloppy Ray Nagin was. Not only was he sloppy as a mayor, he was sloppy as a criminal. His defense about the definition of 'P' and 'EP' was proven within the document itself, because they have certain definitions as to what they meant. And he tried to give them the names of these women as their definition, which was ludicrous on its face."

Neither Moses-Fields nor Pugh testified in the federal trial.

Raspanti says the "P" for personal exception is something that wouldn't apply to Nagin's job as mayor, as it only applies to "you or your family's personal business, which citizens are not entitled to know about, theoretically."

Here's another interesting note. Look at one "personal exception" entry from December 18. On the redacted calendar, a 7:30 meeting was blacked out with a "P." The un-redacted calendar shows that was a meeting with Rodney Williams, who admitted to paying Nagin bribes. It's an early morning meeting that the city claimed was personal.

Raspanti says, this all shows Nagin lied on the stand. "In the course of the trial he threw these two women under the bus," Raspanti tells us, "he threw his CPA under the bus, he threw his attorney Harry Rosenberg under the bus, and his sons, to a lesser or greater degree. "

Raspanti goes on to say, "He's been convicted of lying, he's been convicted of everything except for one count. The jury didn't believe him. This is just further proof that jury system works… one of the main reasons that he got convicted was that they didn't believe in his side of the story. And this shows that they were correct in their assessment of Ray Nagin."

Robert Jenkins declined to comment for this story, noting that he was busy working on an appeal of his client's conviction.

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