Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted on a variety of charges today by a federal grand jury. According to the indictment, ‘Chocolate City’ Ray, while Mayor of New Orleans, took cash bribes from a number of contractors; as well, he allegedly used his office to induce Home Depot to use his family’s firm as its granite supplier.
Some of the more notable charges against Ray are:
• He accepted $50,000 in payoffs as well as granite from a firm, Home Solutions, which was set up to conduct recovery from Hurricane Katrina in NOLA.
• He accepted $72,000 in bribes from Three Fold Consultants, a local engineering firm.
• He used his ‘influence’ with Home Depot to kill an arrangement requiring the firm to hire local residents.
• Another local firm paid for all-expenses vacations to Jamaica and Hawaii for Nagin and his family.
Many of the co-conspirators are already serving time for their part in these affairs and are expected to serve as witnesses, if the case goes to trial. It is regarded as unlikely that this will occur, since the prosecutors will indict his sons if he does not plead guilty.
Nagin lost his mayoral position to Mitch Landrieu two years ago. He then joined his family in Dallas, where they evacuated prior to Katrina. He is expected to be arraigned on Monday. If convicted, he will probably be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Nagin achieved national notoriety following Katrina when he referred to NOLA as Chocolate City, turning the whole post-Katrina contretemps into a racial circus.
We all have our favorite Ray Nagin stories. I’ll offer two of my own. I reside in Baton Rouge, near Jimmy Swaggart’s huge facility. Well, one evening, a year or so after Katrina, I-10 was completely clogged eastbound (towards NOLA) with buses. I assumed that there was some religious rally going on. When I got home, one of my neighbors told me that the buses were to provide people who had evacuated to Houston or Dallas free transit back to NOLA, where they would also get casino chips and food in trade for their vote. It turned out that the next day was Election Day, and without these people Nagin would lose, since the demographics of the city had so markedly changed post-Katrina.
The other involves Nagin’s own ‘heroic’ behavior following the storm, While the Superdome had turned into a Hobbesian nightmare, where people who resided in non-submerged areas had to turn their neighborhoods into armed camps to avert hoodlums from looting their homes, apparently, Ray was ensconced on the top floor of the highest hotel in the city. According to reports, he was falling down drunk through most of that traumatic week.