Former Mayor Ray Nagin sentenced to 10 years in prison
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $84,264 in restitution. Nagin was already forced to forfeit more than $500,000 in May.
Nagin, 58, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court by U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan. He must turn himself in to authorities by noon on September 8.
Berrigan asked Nagin if he would like to say anything before he was sentenced. He thanked the judge for her professionalism and said he stood by his defense.
Berrigan said the seriousness of Nagin's offenses could not be overstated. The crimes were even more harmful because New Orleans is known as a "den of corruption."
"Ray Nagin's sentencing brings to a close a sordid chapter in New Orleans' history in which the man charged with leading a city out of crisis instead chose to enrich himself, his family, and friends," said Rafael Goyeneche, President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Nagin's family was motionless as the sentence was read in court.
The judge recommended the former mayor serve his sentence at a minimum security facility in Oakdale, LA, but that does not mean he will land in there. Berrigan said Oakdale is close enough to allow easier visitation by family members.
The decision about where Nagin will go is ultimately up to the Bureau of Prisons.
Prosecutors were pressing for a stiffer sentence. They objected immediately after the judge delivered her decision. During the sidebar, jazz music filled the courtroom so no one could hear the attorneys speaking to the judge.
Berrigan said she would go below the federal sentencing guidelines, but that Nagin would never again gain public trust. The judge said the sentence imposed should reflect the former mayor was trying to impress family and friends, and not acting solely out of greed.
"What Ray Nagin did was sell his office. We has a community should not accept public corruption. We will not tolerate public corruption wherever it exists," lead prosecutor Matt Coman said in a brief statement after the sentencing.
He added that it was a stiff sentence, but said the office could appeal the sentence to add more time.
Pastor Chante' Sutton believes a letter writing campaign by local clergyman, friends and family may have helped the former mayor.
Nagin arrived at court just before 9 a.m. He hugged friends and family as he left 90 minutes later. The former mayor did not comment as he left court.
It is normal for a judge to not remand someone of Nagin's stature who is convicted of a white collar crime, according to FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.
"I think Ray Nagin will realize he got a break today," Raspanti said. "He will be happy that he will not have to spend the rest of his life in jail."
It is unusual to see someone get a break without cooperating with prosecutors. Raspanti believes Nagin will spend a little more than eight years in prison. He could be out by the time he is 66 years old.
A federal grand jury indicted Nagin on January 18, 2013. Nagin was convicted on February 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who were looking for city contracts or work with the mayor. Nagin received bribes in the form of money, vacations and granite for his family's business that he started after Hurricane Katrina.
He served as mayor from 2002 to 2010.
"Today marks the end of a sad chapter for our city. The people of New Orleans are turning the page and moving forward," current New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
Nagin denied any wrongdoing at his trial. It's unclear whether he will speak Wednesday when he appears with defense attorney Robert Jenkins.
Two other key players in Nagin's case are still waiting to be sentenced. Frank Fradella admitted he conspired to bribe Nagin with trips, cash and granite in exchange for favorable treatment of his business, Home Solutions. He faces up to seven years in prison.
Rodney Williams, the former president of a company called Three Fold Consultants, admitted to paying thousands of dollars to Nagin in exchange for business benefits. He could get 37 months in prison.
Prosecutors said Nagin showed no remorse, and suggested a 20 year sentence. Nagin's attorney, Robert Jenkins, called that a life sentence.
The family's finances are in question. Nagin's wife, Seletha, works at a retail store making less than $500 dollars a month. She declared bankruptcy.
"Given the nature and extent of former Mayor Nagin's criminal conduct and betrayal of public trust over the course of several years, hopefully this result will bring at least some level of resolution to the City and its residents," said Michael Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Field Division of the FBI.
The sprawling investigation was completed with help from the FBI, the IRS, U.S. Attorney's Criminal Investigation Division and the New Orleans Office of Inspector General.
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