US indicts former New Orleans mayor for fraud

Ray Nagin, mayor when Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans in 2005, faces five to 20 years if convicted of corruption.

    Ray Nagin, who served as mayor of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina battered the city in 2005, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges, US law enforcement officials have said.

    The indictment, announced on Friday, claims that Nagin handed lucrative city contracts to consultants and contractors in exchange for more than $230,000 in bribes and kickbacks, including free granite for his family business, personal services and free trips.

    Nagin, 56, is also charged with money laundering conspiracy and filing false tax returns from 2005 to 2008. He faces between five and 20 years behind bars if convicted, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

    Michael Anderson, special agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans Field Office, said the indictment "should serve as a reminder to current and former public officials that, in the interest of full accountability, the FBI pursues corruption even after an official leaves office".

    Nagin, who gained nationwide fame as the public face of the tragedy that swept through his historic city, was said to have accepted about $72,250 in bribes from Rodney Williams and his company, Three Fold Consultants, LLC.

    The indictment also said that Nagin accepted bribes from Frank Fradella, including $50,000 in granite inventory and nine payoffs in the form of wire transfers totaling $112,500.

    "This office will continue its history of investigating and prosecuting public corruption," Dana Boente, US attorney, said in a statement.

    Several businessmen have already pleaded guilty in the case and co-operated with the federal authorities.

    More than 1,800 people died in Louisiana and neighbouring states as Katrina roiled through the region, burying much of New Orleans under water.


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