Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, now living in Frisco, Texas, was indicted on Friday with 21 criminal counts for bribery, honest service wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and filing false tax returns, according to federal law enforcement officials.
According to Friday’s federal grand jury indictment, between December 2004 and the present, Nagin and several other suspects participated in a conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud.
The indictment alleges that Nagin, as the mayor of New Orleans, devised a scheme to defraud the city and its citizens of his honest services through bribery and a kickback scheme in which the 56-year-old Nagin used his political office to provide favorable treatment, including awarding contracts, that benefited business and financial interest of businessmen providing him with bribes and kickbacks in the form of checks, cash, inventory, wire transfers, personal services, and free travel.
The indictment charges Nagin with accepting numerous bribes and payoffs from consultants and contractors, money laundering conspiracy, and filing false tax returns for the years 2005 to 2008.
He served as mayor during the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina and came under much criticism for his handling of the disaster and the ineptitude of his administration. However, according to Nagin’s critics, he was able to avert attention from his mishandling of the Katrina response by blaming President George W. Bush and the Republicans.
Nagin’s infamous “Chocolate city” comment outraged many Americans who believed Nagin and his administration were culpable for the loss of life during Hurricane Katrina and the flood that followed.
““IRS will continue to do our part to hold the elected officials of New Orleans accountable for their actions,” stated Damon Rowe, IRS-CI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge. “No one is excused from obeying the laws of this country.”
According to the indictment, in January 2005, Nagin created Stone Age LLC, a granite company based in New Orleans.
The indictment alleges, among other things, that Nagin accepted approximately $72,250 in bribes from Rodney Williams and his company, Three Fold Consultants LLC. The indictment also alleges Nagin accepted bribes from Frank Fradella, including $50,000, granite inventory, and nine payoffs in the form of wire transfers from Fradella totaling $112,500. In some cases, money was deposited into Nagin’s Stone Age corporate account, or free granite inventory was provided to Stone Age.
According to the prosecutors, Nagin faces hard time totaling a maximum of 48-years in federal prison:
If convicted of conspiring with others to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud (count one), Nagin faces statutory penalties of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
If convicted of accepting a bribes (counts two through seven), Nagin faces statutory penalties of up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on each count.
If convicted of accepting payoffs that caused interstate wire communications to occur between Louisiana and other states (counts eight through 16), Nagin faces statutory penalties of up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on each count.
If convicted of conspiring to commit money laundering (count 17), Nagin faces statutory penalties of up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
If convicted of filing false tax returns for years 2005 through 2008 (counts 18 through 21), Nagin faces statutory penalties of up to three years in prison, a $100,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on each count.
The indictment also contains notices of forfeiture which puts the defendant on notice that the government intends on forfeiting any and all property and profits concerned with and/or derived from any illegal activity referenced in the indictment.
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