NEW ORLEANS — Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who captured the drama of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with an “SOS” call to the nation, was indicted Friday on 21 federal corruption charges, including bribery, money laundering, fraud and filing false tax returns.
Nagin allegedly defrauded the city through “a bribery and kickback scheme” in which he received checks, cash, wire transfers, personal services and free travel from businessmen seeking favorable treatment, the 25-page federal indictment said.
Among the conspiracy charges is an accusation that Nagin awarded “no bid” work to a city contractor who provided “concealed and direct campaign monies” to Nagin, the indictment says.
In 2005, as Katrina became the single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history, Nagin took center stage on behalf of victims when he excoriated the slow pace of federal and state relief efforts, even using profanities.
Nagin, who is black, urged the reconstruction of a “chocolate New Orleans,” adding “You can’t have New Orleans no other way.” He later apologized, saying everyone was welcome to the city.
The hurricane slammed the Gulf coast in 2005 and killed 1,833 people, directly or indirectly, in five states. Damages totaled $108 billion, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
By Michael Martinez for CNN