Kathy Finn, Yahoo! News, January 27, 2014
Jury selection started on Monday in the public corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who led the city during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and now faces charges he profited personally from the city’s recovery.
Nagin, who was swept into office on promises of good government in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 21 counts of corruption, including bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and filing false tax returns.
Nagin could be sentenced to 20 years in prison or more under federal sentencing guidelines if he is convicted of the charges against him, a legal expert said.
During a long federal investigation, numerous former associates of Nagin signed plea deals with the government and agreed to testify against him.
Nagin, 57, was indicted January 2013 and charged with accepting gifts that included more than $200,000 in cash and wire transfers, free vacations for him and his family, and truck loads of free granite delivered to a countertop installation company Nagin owned with his two sons.
As mayor during the crisis, Nagin publicly clashed with federal and state officials over relief efforts and was accused of making statements during the crisis that inflamed passions.
Later, Nagin, who is black, was criticized for racial divisiveness for urging residents to rebuild a “chocolate New Orleans,” referring to its majority African-American population.