Wednesday, February 12, 2014
See ya, C. Ray!
It took the federal jury a little more than six hours to deliberate 21 counts in the corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin. The case went to the jury on Monday after 3 1/2 hours of closing arguments, and they got about three hours in the jury room that day. Oddly enough, there was no deliberation yesterday because of a juror health "issue," and the judge thought it advisable to delay a day instead of pulling in one of the four alternates. Probably a wise decision for appellate purposes.
Six hours. That ain't very long, folks. It would take almost that long to read and fill in all the verdict forms. So, what is the verdict?
TWENTY GUILTIES to one not guilty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Mayor of Chocolate City is gonna be sportin' an orange jumpsuit.
Nagin's story runs along the lines of a Greek tragedy. He was a very popular figure during his first term -- heck, even Pepper and I voted for him the first time around. He campaigned on corruption reform and brought a businessman's perspective to the government table. He got along fairly well with the City Council. He was an affable, sharply-dressed schmoozer with a dynamite accent who could work a room almost as well as Bill Clinton (and that's saying something!). And then Katrina hit, and hubris got the better of him. Combine hubris with power, cover it with a self-actuated, perceived cloak of invincibility, and you set the stage for lots and lots of corruption. And that's what the people of New Orleans got. With second and third curtain calls.
I sat on the Mayor's Military Advisory Committee during Nagin's tenure. During that time, we sponsored a number of activities, including job fairs, informational events, air shows, and awards. He showed up at maybe three events over an 8-year time span. And those were early in his first term.
His sentencing is scheduled for June, but that will probably be put off a number of times.
(Remember, it took former Congressman William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson nearly three years to report to prison after his conviction and sentencing. Being the "model prisoner," he was transferred to a federal fenceless "camp" in January of this year. The same camp where the infamous former Governor Edwin "the only way I won't be re-elected is if they find me in bed with a dead girl or a live boy" Edwards spent a little time before early release, after which he entered into a third marriage with a thirty-something woman who had corresponded with him during his unfortunate incarceration, and became a father again at age 86. The creepiness factor of all that is just simply immeasurable.)
Some expect him to be shown leniency, but I have my doubts. Remember, a number of those 20 guilty counts concern federal tax evasion, and we all know how the Feds feel about tax evasion. He will remain under house arrest until sentencing, but I don't think he has a house in New Orleans anymore. I wonder where he'll stay.
In other news, the former Coroner of St. Tammany Parish was also fined and sentenced today to 24 months in prison following his federal corruption conviction. At least he offered an apology to the good taxpayers whose money he misused.
All in all, this has been an unfortunate day for corruption in Louisiana. And that's a very fortunate thing for the people of Louisiana.