FILE – In this Wednesday, June 22, 2011 file photo, former Mayor Ray Nagin arrives to talk about his new book, “Katrina’s Secrets,” at a news conference in New Orleans. Nagin was indicted Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, on charges that he used his office for personal gain, accepting payoffs, free trips and gratuities from contractors while the city was struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — More than a decade ago, Ray Nagin was elected mayor of New Orleans on a vow to root out corruption in a city plagued by decades of it. On Friday, the former mayor was indicted on charges he lined his pockets with bribe money, payoffs and gratuities while the chronically poor city struggled to recover from Hurricane Katrina’s punishing blow.
The federal indictment alleges that city contractors paid Nagin more than $200,000 in bribes and subsidized his trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and other places in exchange for his help securing millions of dollars in work for the city.
The charges against Nagin are the product of a City Hall corruption investigation that already has resulted in guilty pleas by two former city officials and two businessmen and a prison sentence for a former city vendor.
The case also punctuates the reversal of political and personal fortune for Nagin, who had what New Orleans Magazine editor Errol Laborde called “rock star status” soon after his election in 2002.
Nagin, a former cable television executive, took office with an image as a largely apolitical businessman ready to root out corruption. “The media bought into that 100 percent. They used the term ‘crackdown on corruption,’” Laborde said Friday.
But Nagin’s popularity and support waned in the years after Katrina. The federal investigation of his administration was mushrooming by the time he left office in 2010.
Rafael Goyeneche, head of the nonprofit watchdog agency the Metropolitan Crime Commission, remembers Nagin entering office with a call for the public to let authorities know about corruption.
“To go from the mandate that he was elected with to reading this indictment Login to read more