UK & World News

  • 9 July 2014, 22:55

Hurricane Katrina Mayor Jailed For 10 Years

Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, who was the exasperated face of the deluged city during Hurricane Katrina, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for corruption.

Prosecutors had sought a stiffer penalty for Nagin, who was found guilty in February of 20 counts of bribery, money laundering and other crimes.

But US District Judge Helen Ginger Berrigan said a shorter prison term was warranted, given what she described as Nagin's devotion to his family and to New Orleans.

In a brief statement before sentencing, the 58-year-old  made no apology and said: "I trust that God's going to work all this out."

Nagin, who smiled and hugged supporters as he walked out of court with his family, is due to report to a federal prison in Louisiana in September.

He was convicted of helping contractors secure millions of dollars of work in exchange for bribes, free holidays and other gifts.

As part of the kickback scheme, Nagin accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen.

The Democratic mayor and his family also received a trip to Hawaii, first-class airfare to Jamaica, private jet travel and a limousine for New York City.

Nagin, who has remained free on bail since his conviction, also accepted free granite for the stone company he and his sons owned.

The former cable TV executive had denounced New Orleans' culture of corruption when he ran for mayor in 2002.

Nagin, who led the city until 2010, has maintained his innocence. 

The trial in New Orleans heard that he began accepting bribes before Katrina struck in 2005 and continued to do so during its recovery.

The hurricane flooded more than three-quarters of low-lying New Orleans and left more than 1,800 dead across the region.

Nagin's angry demands for emergency aid from Washington embarrassed the George W Bush administration, which subsequently steered billions of federal dollars to Gulf Coast reconstruction.

But Nagin himself was also criticised at the time for failing to implement his evacuation plan when Katrina struck.

He also raised eyebrows when he remarked that "New Orleans will be chocolate again" after the city's African-American population declined following Katrina.

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