New Orleans Inspector General says more corruption cases to come

The city's inspector general is predicting that there will be many more corruption prosecutions to come out of federal court.  He says it's the result of a new partnership between his office and the feds.

That statement on FOX 8 News comes as the wagons appear to be circling around former Mayor Ray Nagin.

Last week's guilty plea from former City Hall contractor Frank Fradella could be the first of many.

"The essence is we're working hand in hand. They [the feds] have assets, we have assets.  Never before has this kind of collaboration taken place," says Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten credits the city's inspector general for information leading to the charges against Fradella.  It's one example of the new partnership that appears to be developing, and it could result in more prosecutions.

"It's coming," Quatrevaux said. "We've been filling the pipeline for some time, and when it comes out of the pipeline on the other end we will see a regular parade of prosecutions."

Legal analysts say there's little doubt that the public official referred to in the Fradella charges is former mayor Ray Nagin, and it appears there are a number of witnesses lining up against him -- similar to the parade of government witnesses whom the feds lined up against former governor Edwin Edwards, over a decade ago.

"They did a bill of information on Fradella, [Greg] Meffert, [Aaron] Bennett, and [Mark] St. Pierre, and they're singing like the Beatles on Ed Sullivan,' said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

In order to minimize corruption, the inspector general continues to work on the front end of City Hall contracts to prevent problems down the road.

"The sooner we can put in controls across all our systems, the better. We're working on revenue, tracking money coming in and finding weak spots," Quatrevaux said.

Meantime, the pressure mounts against the former mayor. "Mr. Nagin has to make a decision and not be like the donkey in a hailstorm.  He needs to come in.  Sometimes the deals get better sometimes they got worse."

By agreeing to a plea deal, court papers show Frank Fradella appears to have cut his possible sentence from 15 years to seven, with his attorney promising 100 percent cooperation in any future prosecutions.

Raspanti says that Mark St. Pierre chose not to cut a deal with the feds, and that led to his getting a 17-year sentence. Our FOX 8 legal analyst says the former City Hall vendor may seek to cut his sentence in exchange for future cooperation on more investigations.