A federal jury convicted former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Wednesday on charges that he accepted bribes, free trips and other gratuities from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work while he was in office.
The jury returned a guilty verdict against Nagin on 20 of 21 counts of corruption and other illegal activities, including bribery, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy, according to the Times-Picayune, a local New Orleans paper.
Until sentencing, the former mayor will remain free on bond. However, he is facing a long prison term.
Nagin, who served as the city's mayor during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was indicted in January 2013 on charges that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of a local businessman.
He was also charged with accepting thousands of dollars in payoffs from another businessman for his help in securing city contracts.
Before the verdict was read, Nagin said outside the courtroom that he had "been at peace with this for a long time. I'm good."
Prosecutors called him a politician on the take who lined his pockets with some of the Katrina relief money flowing into the city, while defense attorneys questioned the credibility of those who had cut deals to testify against the former mayor.
Nagin, a Democrat who served two terms from 2002 to 2010, was the chief defense witness. He vehemently denied the charges.
He said he was duty-bound to OK contracts awarded to low bidders or through a process in which committees recommended contractors.
He denied that the contracts were tied in any way to money, materials or favors that he or his family business received.
He also denied any ties between free vacation travel he received from businessmen and actions he took as mayor.
He said he thought his former technology chief, Greg Meffert, had paid for vacation trips to Hawaii and Jamaica when, it turned out, they were financed by convicted businessman Mark St. Pierre, a city vendor at the time.