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Nagin Seeks Reversal|of Corruption Conviction

(CN) - Attorneys for former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin asked a federal appeals court this week to reverse their client's corruption convictions, claiming the trial judge gave jurors erroneous instructions prior to their convicting him.

"We have a case chockfull of bribes, official acts and concealment," Richard Pickens, an assistant United States attorney told the three-judge panel Monday at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Jordan Siverd, a public defender representing Nagin, told the court the judge should not have instructed the jury to convict Nagin for actions he would have legally taken even if he had not been bribed to do so.

Nagin, who served as mayor from 2002 to 2010 and made national news after Hurricane Katrina with his comments that New Orleans would remain a "chocolate city," is serving a 10 year federal sentence and did not attend the arguments.

The groundwork for Nagin's appeal was laid out last July by Robert Jenkins, who represented Nagin at the time. Since then, however, money for Nagin's defense has been dwindling, and the ex-mayor is now being represented by Siverd of the federal public defender's office.

Nagin was found guilty in February on 20 counts of corruption that stemmed from gifts he accepted from city contractors, in the form of money, travel, granite and other gifts.

Nagin's numerous references to New Orleans as a "chocolate city" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were sharply criticized as being both inane and disingenuous. Many used the phrase mainly to express his belief that the only portions of New Orleans that would be rebuilt were those on higher ground with primarily white residents.

In July Nagin was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Helen "Ginger" Berrigan of the Eastern District of Louisiana. He has been at the Federal Correctional Institution Texarkana in Texas since September.

The Fifth Circuit did not indicate when they are likely to rule.

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