Dozens write letters on Nagin's behalf prior to his sentencing - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Dozens write letters on Nagin's behalf prior to his sentencing

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Almost three dozen people have stepped up to write letters they hope will lead the judge to cut former Mayor Ray Nagin some slack when he is sentenced on a slew of corruption charges soon.

Nagin was convicted on 20 counts of 21 criminal brought against him including bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud.

Nagin seemed to have it all even before entering public office - a wife, children and a highly paid job as an executive with a cable company. He even used a chunk of his own cash to get his first campaign off the ground. Now, he waits to learn how much time he will spend in a prison cell.

Nearly three dozen people have written letters to Judge Ginger Berrigan pleading for leniency. The judge allowed members of the news media to read the letters in her chambers Friday.

FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti commented on the letters which are not unusual before a sentencing hearing.

"Lots of people get letters, I just don't think it's going to matter that much," said Raspanti.

Former New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Charles Parent wrote a letter on Nagin's behalf.

"There is no excuse for the crimes that Mayor Nagin has been convicted of, but how much more [can] one man and his family suffer. In the name of justice and fairness I ask this court for leniency for Mr. Nagin," Parent wrote.

The number two administration official during part of Nagin's mayoral term also wrote a letter.

Former Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Hatfield wrote about Nagin having high ethical standards.

"During his mayoral fundraisers, he strongly reminded contributors that their support indicated that they believed in the future of New Orleans under his leadership and stressed that their contributions would not guarantee them contracts," she wrote.

The Reverend Fred Luter is the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Luter called Nagin a friend, and a good and decent man who made some unwise choices.

"Hurricane Katrina affected Ray Nagin like many of us, spiritually, emotionally and mentally," Luter's letter reads in part.

Letter writers also referred to the scandal involving top prosecutors in former US Attorney Jim Letten's office. Two of Letten's top tier prosecutors resigned in disgrace after admitting they posted caustic comments online about potential defendants and ongoing investigations.

"Ray is a good and honorable man who now finds himself in one of the worst moments of his life. Based, in part at least, on questionable prosecutorial tactics a jury has found Ray guilty of crimes punishable by imprisonment," wrote businessman Norbert Simmons about Nagin's case.

While Ray Nagin continues to maintain that he did nothing to break the law, at least one person who wrote on his behalf suggested that the jury got it right.

"While it is undeniable Mr. Nagin did engage in bribery, money laundering, tax and wire fraud, I take this time to ask you to search deep down in your heart and sentence him to the minimum sentence that the sentence guidelines allow," penned Denise Haynes, who wrote that she was a family friend and former Nagin employee.

Nagin's young grandchild even wrote a touching letter to the judge.

"I have the best grandfather in the whole world. I call him Pops. He reads a lot. He taught me how to tie my shoes. But my favorite is when he buys me snowballs and doughnuts. He cleans up my toys and I love him," wrote Cino Nagin in the handwritten letter.

"The only time I think this makes a big difference is if the defendant is a young person and the judge wants to decide if this was a one time lapse in judgment. But when you get to the age of me and Ray Nagin, pretty much you're a big boy and you need to take responsibility for your own actions," stated Raspanti.

Nagin is scheduled to be sentenced July 9.

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