A U.S. federal grand jury has indicted a former mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana on 21 counts of corruption, including charges he accepted payoffs from contractors while the city struggled with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The indictment — announced Friday by the Justice Department — accuses C. Ray Nagin of conspiring to defraud the city by awarding contracts to businesses in return for kickbacks that included cash, wire transfers and free travel. The 56-year-old Nagin also is accused of filing false tax returns between 2005 and 2008.
Nagin, a former cable television executive, was a political newcomer in the state of Louisiana before winning election in 2002 to his first term as mayor of the Gulf coast city.
Hurricane Katrina, which obliterated much of New Orleans three years later, put Nagin on the national stage, where he gained a reputation as an outspoken and sometimes combative chief executive. He left office in 2008, after completing his second term.
The Louisiana Board of Ethics charged Nagin in 2010 with two possible violations of the state's ethics law while in office. One charge accused him of using a credit card belonging to a businessman who had gained contracts with the city. In another accusation, the board alleged Nagin's family business benefited from installation services provided by a home improvement retailer, while the retailer was negotiating tax breaks with the city.