Former New Orleans Mayor Nagin to appeal bribery conviction

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 15, 2014 3:25 PM

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who led the city during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison in a corruption case, filed a notice on Tuesday that he will appeal his conviction on bribery and other charges.

The appeal will include both the verdict and the sentence, the notice said, and will be considered by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nagin, a Democrat, is due to turn himself in to begin serving his sentence on Sept 8. He was sentenced last week to 10 years in federal prison after being convicted by a jury in February on 20 criminal counts that included bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and tax evasion.

U.S. District Judge Helen Ginger Berrigan handed Nagin a shorter prison term than that recommended under federal sentencing guidelines and sought by prosecutors, citing his devotion to family, commitment to helping his city and her belief that he was not a ringleader in the corruption that occurred.

During the 10-day trial, prosecutors portrayed Nagin as a mayor on the take, granting favors for bribes that included tons of free granite delivered to a kitchen countertop company he ran with his sons.

Nagin was thrust into the spotlight in 2005 when Katrina overwhelmed levees and flooded 80 percent of the city, killing 1,500 people and causing some $80 billion in damage.

Nagin's appeal will likely be complicated by the defense not moving during the trial to have the evidence against him ruled too weak for a conviction, Herbert Larson, an expert on federal criminal law at the Tulane University Law School, has said. Such motions are crucial for revisiting those arguments on appeal, Larson has said.

Neither federal prosecutors nor Nagin's attorney, Robert Jenkins, responded immediately to messages seeking comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Bill Trott, Will Dunham and Eric Beech)