NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor — including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan handed down the sentence Wednesday morning.
Nagin was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business.
The 58-year-old Democrat had defiantly denied any wrongdoing after his 2013 indictment and during his February trial.
Moments before sentencing, a subdued Nagin made a brief statement, thanking the judge for her professionalism. He made no apologies. "I trust that God's going to work all this out," he said.
After the sentencing Nagin smiled and hugged supporters as he walked out of the courtroom with his wife, Seletha, and other family members and friends.
Nagin is scheduled to report to the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, in September.
Berrigan noted the serious nature of the crimes but cited several other factors in her decision to depart from sentencing guidelines that could have put Nagin in prison for as many as 20 years.
She said Nagin should not be cast as the leader of the scheme in which participants got millions of dollars in city work. "Mr. Nagin claimed a much, much smaller share of the profits in this conspiracy," Berrigan.
Nagin was alleged to have received roughly a half million dollars.
She noted character references showing him to be a devoted son, husband and father. And she said, despite his crimes, Nagin displayed "a genuine if all too infrequent" desire to help New Orleans and its residents after the 2005 catastrophe.
Nagin was a political newcomer when he won election as New Orleans' mayor, succeeding Marc Morial in 2002. He cast himself as a reformer and announced crackdowns on corruption in the city's automobile-inspection and taxi-permit programs. But federal prosecutors say his own corrupt acts began during his first term, continued through the Katrina catastrophe and flourished in his second term.
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