Nagin supporters believe they may have helped with light sentence

Supporters were surprised about the sentenced handed down to former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. (FOX8 Photo)
Supporters were surprised about the sentenced handed down to former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. (FOX8 Photo)

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had about a dozen supporters in court Wednesday, as the sentence for his federal corruption conviction was read.

Some people believe they may have helped land the former mayor a light sentence.

Bishop Chante' Sutton is a member of the group 'Clergy for Nagin,' and believed they may have made a difference in the amount of time U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan sentenced the former mayor to prison.

"He asked some area clergymen to put forth a letter asking for leniency," Sutton said. He got to know Nagin early in his first term and also had a chance to talk with the judge.

"Judge Berrigan was very open with us, and she said whatever we did would be used," Sutton said.

But not everyone outside court was pleased.

"It was really light, really light, absolutely," trial watcher Caroline Botchie said.

"You never know a person, you get what you deserve," New Orleans resident Jarad McGarrity added.

Rafael Goyeneche, President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said the sentence was nothing to take lightly. "He's going to be looking through prison bars for next 120 months, and he will be thinking about the decisions that he made."

Before the hearing began, Berrigan came out and spoke individually with Nagin family members. She later made it clear that family was a big factor in her decision making.

The judge said Nagin had been "dutiful to his parents and family," who said little outside court.

"What we're witnessing here is an epic fall from grace from an individual who started as a rock star when he was elected mayor," said U.N.O. political analyst Ed Chervenak, Ph.D.

Even Nagin's supporters were surprised about the sentence. Though the former mayor begins serving his ten year sentence in early September, many believe it could have been much worse.

"I really thought he would get the max," Sutton said.

Despite the sentence, Berrigan made it clear that Nagin got what he deserved.

"He abandoned his integrity after Hurricane Katrina, when the city was most at need of strong leadership," Berrigan said.

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