Ray Nagin

Monday, July 14, 2014

Y@ Speak: "targeted, smeared, tarnished"

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 12:46 PM


Or smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered and capped. Your Waffle House hashbrown preparation is not far off from how you would describe how you've been treated by the public. This week's Y@ Speak looks at Ray Nagin's sentencing, as well as the return of Sidney Torres, Disney-fication, and the annual Running of the Bulls.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

'The palace syndrome'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Ray Nagin leaves Federal Court after U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan sentenced him to 10 years in prison. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Ray Nagin leaves Federal Court after U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan sentenced him to 10 years in prison.


Politically, the Ray Nagin Era ended on Feb. 6, 2010, with the election of current Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Although Nagin officially had three months left in office at that time, he proved no more capable during his lame duck tenure than he did during his feckless second term, when pretty much everything he touched turned fecal. That includes his ham-fisted attempts to enrich himself when he should have been leading the effort to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

While Nagin’s political arc ended in 2010, his pathetic personal saga drags on. On Wednesday (July 9), U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan sentenced the former mayor to 10 years in federal prison. A jury found Nagin guilty of 20 counts of corruption — including bribery, money laundering, wire fraud and tax evasion — in February. His wife Seletha has filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to hold on to the family home in Texas.

That’s quite a fall from grace for the guy who rode into office atop a wave of personal and political popularity in 2002. Nagin, who still maintains his innocence despite reams of evidence against him, faces an equally ignominious comedown when he reports to prison on Sept. 8.

Many expressed combinations of shock, disappointment and anger at the sentence that Berrigan imposed. The federal sentencing guidelines, which are not binding, suggested a prison term of more than 15-and-a-half years to 19-plus years.

Before imposing the sentence, Berrigan chided Nagin for abandoning his integrity, but she also made it clear that she intended to depart downward from the guidelines. She did, by more than a third.

Still, as veteran criminal lawyers Joe Raspanti and Donald “Chick” Foret noted, 10 years is a long time.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Y@Speak instant reaction: Twitter on Ray Nagin's sentencing

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 11:08 AM

While legal analysts and talking heads were weighing in on U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan's sentencing of former Mayor Ray Nagin, Twitter was weighing in as well. A sampling of the 140-character reaction:



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Ray Nagin sentenced to 10 years on federal corruption charges

Posted By and on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Former Mayor Ray Nagin leaves U.S. Federal Court in downtown New Orleans this morning after U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan sentenced him to 10 years at FDC Oakdale Prison in Oakdale, La. Nagin did not speak after the sentence was laid. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Former Mayor Ray Nagin leaves U.S. Federal Court in downtown New Orleans this morning after U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan sentenced him to 10 years at FDC Oakdale Prison in Oakdale, La. Nagin did not speak after the sentence was laid.


Former Mayor Ray Nagin, who was convicted on 20 of 21 federal charges in February, was sentenced this morming to 10 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $84,000 in restitution. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Helen "Ginger" Berrigan, who presided over Nagin's trial earlier this year. Before the sentencing, Berrigan denied the defense's request to delay sentencing, saying there was "no real justification" in doing so.

Berrigan recommended the former mayor serve his term at FDC Oakdale Prison in Allen Parish in central Louisiana, where former Rep. William Jefferson is currently serving out his own federal sentence. Nagin must report to Oakdale Sept. 8.

The length of the sentence was somewhat surprising to court watchers; Mark St. Pierre, the City Hall tech vendor who also took a chance on going to trial on federal bribery charges related to Nagin rather than accept a plea deal, had received a 17-year sentence after being convicted on all 53 counts against him. Legal analysts, citing federal guidelines, had predicted sentences of 15 years and up. But Berrigan had wide latitude In sentencing, and she cited Nagin's age (58) as part of her decision.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nagin sentencing pushed back to July 2

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaving U.S. Federal Court in downtown New Orleans Feb. 12, after being found guilty on 20 of the 21 charges against him. His scheduled sentencing on June 11 was pushed back to July 2 after his attorneys requested the delay. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • KEVIN ALLMAN
  • Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin leaving U.S. Federal Court in downtown New Orleans Feb. 12, after being found guilty on 20 of the 21 charges against him. His scheduled sentencing on June 11 was pushed back to July 2 after his attorneys requested the delay.


Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin will have a (slightly) happier birthday when he turns 58 on June 11. U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan today granted a request from Nagin lawyer Robert Jenkins to move Nagin’s sentencing date from June 11 to July 2.

But that was the only good news for the former mayor. Earlier in the week, Berrigan had ordered Nagin to forfeit $501,201 to the federal government — and earlier in the month, Nagin’s wife Seletha had filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas, where the family lives, in an apparent attempt to keep the Nagins’ home and other assets from being seized by the feds.

In February, a federal jury found Nagin guilty of conspiracy, money laundering, nine counts of wire fraud, six counts of bribery, and filing false tax returns from 2005-2007. He has been on home confinement since. 

Nagin hasn’t spoken publicly since the trial, but continues to tweet, mostly inspirational and religious messages. In the days before the sentencing postponement, he quoted Bishop T.D. Jakes (“Prayer empowers you to find your own way through life without simply reacting to whatever the devil may throw at you”) and the Rev. Joel Osteen (“When life gets tough & things don’t look like they’ll work out, you can live by faith knowing God has already written the final chapter”). He also posted an R.I.P. message for poet Maya Angelou, who died yesterday, and quoted her: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Y@ Speak: extreme makeover

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Pierre the Pelican underwent reconstructive beak surgery to host The Tonight Show, the New Orleans Arena was Christened Smoothie King Center in time for the 2014 NBA All-Star weekend, Nike rolled out "gumbo" shoes, dachsunds replaced horses in races, and Krewe du Vieux revealed true colors — oh, and Ray Nagin may be wearing zebra stripes. That and more in this week's makeover edition of Y@ Speak.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Interview with the zombie

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Hours after a visibly humbled Ray Nagin took his post-conviction perp walk from the federal courthouse, I had the privilege of sitting down with the guy who actually uncovered the steaming pile of dung that became the case of United States of America v. C. Ray Nagin.


His name is Jason Berry. No, not that Jason Berry (the novelist and op-ed contributor). This is Jason Berry the blogger.


That’s right, a blogger broke open this scandal, on a blog called American Zombie (www.theamericanzombie.com). TV and newspaper reporters have crowed about their “scoops” on this story, but the truth is no one had it before Berry. His work continues on other investigative fronts, but he took time out to chat with me about the Nagin verdict.


Did you feel an element of schadenfreude when the verdict came down? If not, what was your initial reaction?


No. I honestly didn’t feel vindicated in any way. In fact, I felt a little aggravated because I couldn’t wrap my head around the efforts of the defense. I suppose it’s my Catholic upbringing that seeks redemption for even a narcissist like Ray Nagin. There were so many things that could have been addressed in this trial but weren’t. I felt like it was a McDefense instead of the Brigtsen’s five-course meal that it should have been. Having said that, I don’t think there is any way to argue with credit card statements, checks, and bank statements, which leads me to wonder why Nagin had [defense attorney Robert] Jenkins take the case to trial in the first place. I do think Nagin’s prosecution and conviction are important for our city, though, and overall I’m relieved it actually happened.




You were onto this scandal long before anyone else in the media, yet you got very little credit for that. How did that make you feel as you watched the trial?


I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. I sat through about 70 percent of the trial and I watched other journalists being praised by the prosecution for at least a few stories I know I broke, namely the granite deal between Stone Age and Cornerstone, the HSOA subsidiary, and the existence of the credit card Meffert was using under Netmethods’ name. Perhaps I’m taking it too personally, but I think there was an effort to diminish my role by both the prosecution and other journalistic entities. From the prosecution side I understand that the last word they wanted coming up in this trial was “blogger” in the wake of the commenting scandal, but on the journalistic side it’s tough to read commentary that dismisses and diminishes the work on the blog. Yes, much of my work was sourced anonymously, but this is not uncommon in journalistic endeavors, and ultimately the accuracy of the work should speak for itself. I’m a big defender of anonymity, but I suppose that’s another argument altogether.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Ray Nagin trial gets the Taiwanese animation treatment

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Ray Nagin, Taiwanese animation style. - SCREENSHOT/NEXT MEDIA ANIMATION
  • SCREENSHOT/NEXT MEDIA ANIMATION
  • Ray Nagin, Taiwanese animation style.


It used to be that you weren't really news until you were parodied on Saturday Night Live — but the modern equivalent is that you're  not really news until a Taiwanese animation studio dramatizes your story

All hail WWNO-FM's Jason Saul, who found Next Media Animation's take on the rise and fall of Ray Nagin. Go to WWNO's website to read Jason's take on it and watch the video.

Spoiler: Nagin gets eaten by a shark.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nagin guilty in corruption trial

Posted By and on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Ray Nagin leaves U.S. Federal Court in downtown New Orleans, surrounded by family and defense attorneys, after being found guilty on 20 of the 21 charges against him. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • KEVIN ALLMAN
  • Ray Nagin leaves U.S. Federal Court in downtown New Orleans, surrounded by family and defense attorneys, after being found guilty on 20 of the 21 charges against him.



After six hours of deliberation over two days, the jury in former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's federal corruption trial returned this afternoon and found him guilty of conspiracy, money laundering, nine counts of wire fraud, six counts of bribery, and filing false tax returns from 2005-2007.

He was found not guilty of one of six counts of bribery, a $10,000 payment to his sons in 2009.

Prosecuting attorneys left the courthouse shortly after the verdict was read, not stopping to speak with reporters.

Ray Nagin walks with his family and defense team from federal court through Lafayette Square toward the law offices of his defense attorney, Robert Jenkins. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Ray Nagin walks with his family and defense team from federal court through Lafayette Square toward the law offices of his defense attorney, Robert Jenkins.


Nagin left court 90 minutes later with his wife Seletha Nagin and members of his defense team. Rather than leave in cars, Nagin and his defense team walked the two blocks to defense attorney Robert Jenkins' office on St. Charles Avenue. Nagin, looking grim and impassive, ignored shouted questions from reporters, saying only, "I maintain my innocence."

The only reaction the former mayor showed was to a passerby in Lafayette Square, who yelled, "We got your back, Ray!" Nagin briefly looked at the man and nodded his head.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan ordered Nagin to home detention. Sentencing will be in Berrigan's courtroom June 11 at 9 a.m.

Below the jump: the statement from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite's office.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Y@ Speak: "ready to get some truth out"

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 1:45 PM


The truth is hard to swallow, but here are a few mouthfuls. This week's Y@ Speak spits so much truth that I must ask you whether you can handle it. Ray Nagin, take it away...

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