Businessman Rodney Williams sentenced in the Nagin case

Rodney Williams, center, leaves federal court after a previous hearing in the case.
Rodney Williams, center, leaves federal court after a previous hearing in the case.

One of the last key players in the Ray Nagin corruption case was sentenced in federal court Wednesday afternoon.

Businessman RodneyWilliams gave a tearful statement to the judge before he was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for his crimes.

Williams, who some called the "star" witness during the Nagin trial, was joined in court by many supporters. He pleaded guilty to paying then-Mayor Nagin tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for help in landing no-bid city contracts.

During the hearing, prosecutors told Judge Susie Morgan that Williams played a critical role in cementing their case. Williams' lawyer echoed that.

"I'm completely satisfied that the judge considered everything about the case. On Monday we went to her chambers and discussed every single detail of the case. I thank the government for really saying exactly what Rodney's cooperation was, which was obviously the key witness in my judgment to the case," said Williams' attorney, veteran litigator Ralph Capitelli.

Capitelli argued for probation for Williams and no jail time, but the judge said Williams had committed a serious offense and would have to suffer the consequences for his actions.

Before being sentenced, Williams gave an emotional statement to the judge.  He paused during his comments after becoming choked up. Williams tearfully apologized to the citizens of New Orleans, his family and his church members, many of whom were in the small third floor courtroom.

"I would first like to apologize to my children.  I've taken them through a lot…I just want to tell my kids that I'm extremely sorry for my actions," Williams said."

"He is totally remorseful. He's got children that he feels [are] alone, his wife is deceased, and he feels more than badly letting them down, and he genuinely expressed that and he's genuinely expressed his remorse throughout. He wasn't fake about it, he stood up when he didn't have to, he had no other crimes, but he decided that it was the right thing to do," Capitelli said to news reporters after the hearing.

Williams was the government's first witness in the Nagin trial. Nagin began serving a 10-year prison term in Texas this week.

Williams must report to prison on November 10. His attorney requested that he be placed at the minimum security prison in Oakdale, La., but the federal Bureau of Prisons has the final say on where Williams will serve his time.

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