Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s federal corruption trial began Thursday, and during opening day procedures, prosecutors listed several crooked deals they say Nagin ran out of City Hall, while the defense called the evidence deceiving, the Times-Picayune reports.
Prosecutors allege that under Nagin’s tenure, corruption flourished, claiming that the former mayor received money, free vacation travel and free granite for his family business—worth more than $500,000—for helping contractors receive millions of dollars’ worth of city work, the Associated Press reports.
“Corruption was alive and well in this building,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Coman told jurors Thursday, AP reports.
According to AP, a one-time city contractor, Rodney Williams, testified that he and his partners paid the former mayor, who served from 2002 to 2010, some $60,000 in bribes requested by Nagin and Nagin’s sons. In return, the then-contractor began getting work from the city that in all totaled more than $2.6 million.
Williams, who in a deal with prosecutors pleaded guilty in December 2012 to a conspiracy charge, said Nagin’s two sons approached him about paying the money to help support the Nagins’ family-owned granite company. Later the former mayor, who was thrust into the national spotlight during Hurricane Katrina, would meet with Williams.
“The mayor told me he was tapped out and didn’t have any additional money to put into the company and he appreciated me putting up the money that his sons had requested,” said Williams, who also testified that he made campaign contributions and had taken Nagin on a fishing trip in hopes of winning city business, with no results, AP reports.
According to AP, Nagin’s 21-count indictment accuses him of accepting more than $160,000 in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of contractors.
The indictment alleges that Nagin received free private jet and limousine services to New York from an unidentified businessman who owned a New Orleans movie theater.
Nagin reportedly agreed to waive delinquent tax penalties owed to the city by the businessman in 2006, prosecutors said.