Ray Nagin, who was Mayor of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, gained brief national fame when he appeared on numerous TV broadcasts passionately calling for more aid to the stricken city.
Now, a court has ruled that the disgraced former Mayor must pay back more than $500,000, following his conviction on multiple bribery and corruption charges.
According to prosecutors, the 57-year-old Nagin, who served two terms as New Orleans mayor from 2002 to 2010, doled out lucrative city contracts to various businessmen, both when he first came into office and then during the city’s rebuilding process after the disastrous 2005 hurricane.
In exchange for his favorable treatment toward certain contractors, Nagin received $501,200 in bribes, in the form of money, merchandise and services.
In February, Ray Nagin was convicted on 20 counts of bribery, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Two New Orleans businessmen pleaded guilty in connection with the wide-ranging corruption probe, and another vendor who did business with the city was convicted.
Earlier this month, Nagin’s ex-wife, Seletha Nagin, filed bankruptcy papers in Texas, just a day before a townhouse in Dallas owned by the Nagins was scheduled to be foreclosed. Among Seletha Nagin’s creditors, according to the court filings, are the company holding the townhouse mortgage, Macy’s Department Store and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Ray Nagin, who has said he plans to appeal his conviction, has asked U.S. District Court Judge Helen Berrigan to cut down the amount of money he owes, because he says the liability for the bribes was not his alone.
At the same time, Nagin testified during his trial that witnesses against him lied and that evidence establishing a connection between him and the businessmen who admitted bribing him was misinterpreted.
Indicted in 2013, three years after leaving the mayor’s office, the past year has seen a hard fall for Ray Nagin. Once the toast of New Orleans, he now not only faces paying back half a million dollars, but he could be sent to prison for up to 20 years.
Sentencing for Ray Nagin is scheduled for June 11, but he has asked for a delay on the date while his attorneys go over the results of a pre-sentencing investigation. Berrigan has not indicated whether she will grant that delay.
The former mayor has remained free since his indictment in January of 2013 nor did he enter prison after his conviction in February of this year. But barring any delay, on June 11, Ray Nagin will likely be sent directly to prison to begin serving his sentence.