Then-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pauses before speaking to residents at the Guste Homes public housing complex for seniors while campaigning for re-election April 20, 2006, in New Orleans.
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Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is facing federal prison in September, but the businessman-turned-politician, who was convicted on 20 out of 21 fraud, bribery and other charges, says he’s innocent.

“I still maintain my innocence,” Nagin told WDSU TV, calling the situation “surreal.” “We’re going to appeal this thing, and it’s just something that’s very difficult.”

The fallen politician criticized the prosecutors for their handling of the case. “I’ve been targeted. I’ve been smeared, tarnished, and for some reason some of the stances that I took after Katrina did not sit well with some very powerful people, so now I’m paying the price for that,” he lamented. “The prosecutors were fairly magical in their ability to take something that supposedly happened and paint it as reality … I was not aware of any of that stuff. I was not involved in any kind of bribes.”

As the politician prepares for the day he has to report to prison, he says he has already been speaking to his family and was just waiting to see what happens. “I continue to pray and ask God for strength. I talked to my family a lot. They’re dealing with it as best they can, and we’ll see what the future holds. September 8 is a date that’s out there right now, but who knows what the future is going to [bring]?” he said.

Watch at WDSU TV.