Ray Nagin's corruption trial set to begin Monday - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Ray Nagin's corruption trial set to begin Monday

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE)- The trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin begins Monday morning at federal court, starting with jury selection. Nagin faces charges including bribery, wire fraud and money laundering.

It's been four years since former Mayor Ray Nagin lived in New Orleans having moved to Texas after his term ended. This week Nagin will be back in the Crescent City to face federal corruption charges.

Political analyst Silas Lee says, "It's the very first time we've had a former mayor, one being indicted and facing trial as former Mayor Nagin is, and what's very significant is that he is going to trial."

Lee says the evidence against Nagin is strong. The government is expected to haul in former business associates and city contractors to detail alleged misconduct.

Lee says Nagin started off in office, as a reformer. "The pre-Katrina Nagin was focused on change and he was the darling of the community and particularly the business community. The post-Katrina Nagin was focused on accountability and rebuilding however it was difficult for him to keep his political train and his bureaucratic train on track," explained Lee.

Lee believes Nagin's political downfall actually began before the storm saying, "It started about a year before, with the investigation into the contract and reference to the cameras, crime prevention cameras. Then they looked into the fact that he issued a directive to eliminate the bids for some technology contracts in which Greg Meffert had a lot of influence over."

Meffert was the city's technology chief at the time. Three years ago, he pleaded guilty to taking bribes and steering millions of dollars of city contracts to companies belonging to Mark St. Pierre. St. Pierre was, himself, convicted of bribery and money laundering. Nagin's indictment accuses him of accepting bribes from St. Pierre.

St. Pierre and Meffert are both expected to testify against the former mayor. And there are others. Businessmen Rodney Williams and Frank Fradella both admitted to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Nagin. Prosecutors allege Nagin received bribes and kickbacks by check...cash...granite for the company he owned with his sons, wire transfers, personal services and free travel. Jurors can expect to see all four men pop up at federal court to testify against the former mayor.

"The defense team will try to paint the impression that don't believe everything you see and you hear, it wasn't as they portrayed," Lee said.

Before the testimony, must come jury selection, a process that could be difficult given Nagin's notoriety. Prosecutors and the defense will have a fine line to walk.....finding jurors that don't know too much about the case.

FOX 8 legal analyst Joseph Raspanti says, "If you haven't known about Ray Nagin or read about Ray Nagin and his troubles with the court, then what kind of a thinking person are you? Are you intelligent enough to follow along at the trial because it sure seems as if you haven't been reading the papers lately so it seems like a double edged sword in my mind."

Jurors will be selected from the 13 parishes that make up the Eastern district. They'll report to court first thing Monday morning.

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