Friday, January 18, 2013

Ray Nagin indicted

Posted by on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 2:29 PM

TheIndictment2.png

A federal grand jury returned a 21 count indictment against former Mayor Ray Nagin this morning at federal court in downtown New Orleans. Nagin's charges include money laundering, filing false tax returns, wire fraud and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Nagin is accused of accepting bribes from city contractors Frank Fradella, of Home Solutions of America and Home Solutions Restoration of Louisiana, and Rodney Williams, of Three Fold Constultants, who were recently convicted of bribing "Public Official A" — Nagin, as the federal government officially acknowledged today — in exchange for millions in city contracts. Nagin is also charged with receiving bribes from city contractors Mark St. Pierre and Aaron Bennett, both convicted of bribing other public officials, and a movie theater owner identified only as "Businessman A."

Fradella pleaded guilty to paying Nagin $50,000 in 2008 after his company had been awarded more than $4 million in construction work at Louis Armstrong International Airport and sidewalk repair in the French Quarter. Fradella allegedly funneled the money to Nagin through a trust fund controlled by Michael McGrath, then Home Solutions of America's chairman. Fradella also admitted to providing free granite inventory to Stone Age, LLC, a company owned by Nagin and his sons, Jeremy and Jarin.

(More after the jump)

Nagin's sons are not named or charged in the indictment, though it does identify "Family member 1" and "Family member 2" as parties to the conspiracy.

Fradella wired Nagin an additional $112,500, in monthly payments of $12,500, in 2010 and 2011, according to the indictment.

Williams pleaded guilty in December to paying Nagin more than $70,000. Nagin allegedly transferred part ownership of Stone Age to Williams to disguise the nature of the payoffs.

St. Pierre, who was convicted of bribing former city tech chief Greg Meffert in 2011 in exchange for no-bid technology contracts, is alleged to have paid Nagin off with paid cell phone service and trips to Hawaii and Jamaica, as well as campaign contributions. Bennett is also alleged to have paid Nagin off with travel. And Meffert "arranged for Aaron Bennett and his company, Benetech, to become a prime contractor for the city of New Orleans and a billing mechanism for Mark St. Pierre," all with Nagin's permission, the federal government claims.

According to the indictment, Nagin also accepted private jet travel and limousine expenses for a trip to New York from an "Businessman A," who "owned and operated a movie theater in eastern New Orleans" from 2002 to 2010. In return, the indictment claims, Nagin supported a tax penalty waiver for the unidentified businessman, who owed the city back taxes and loan payments.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Nagin faces a maximum sentence that could run as high as several hundred years, if convicted on all counts:

If convicted of conspiring with others to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud (Count 1), 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 (Count 2-7), 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 8-16), 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 18-21), Nagin faces statutory penalties of up to three years in prison, a $100,000 fine and three years of supervised release on each count.

No arraignment date has yet been set.

Update: Nagin is scheduled for an arraignment hearing before federal Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 2 p.m.

Read the full indictment: NaginIndict.pdf

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