Friday, March 24, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

5th Circuit Tosses Nagin |Bid to Void Conviction

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - The Fifth Circuit refused to throw out former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's 2014 conviction on bribery charges, finding his argument for a new trial "meritless."

A jury found Nagin, 59, guilty last year on 20 counts of corruption stemming from kickbacks he accepted from city contractors, in the form of money, travel, granite and other gifts. The disgraced New Orleans Democrat is serving a 10-year prison sentence at a low-security federal prison in Texas.

Nagin argued that his convictions should be tossed because the trial judge gave jurors erroneous instructions prior to his conviction that allowed the jury to convict in the absence of a quid pro quo exchange.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit slammed Nagin's challenge, concluding that the jury was properly instructed to convict "only if it found a corrupt quid pro quo exchange."

"This contention is meritless," U.S. Circuit Judge James Dennis wrote in the nine-page ruling.

The appellate court also rejected the former two-term mayor's claim that the $501,000 forfeiture imposed on him was illegal.

Nagin, who served as mayor from 2002 to 2010, made international headlines in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, including with his controversial comments that New Orleans would remain a "chocolate city." He is the first mayor of New Orleans to be sent to prison on federal corruption charges.

Nagin is scheduled to be released on May 25, 2023, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.