Former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, whose lambasting of the federal government’s response after Hurricane Katrina helped make him the face of his city’s post-disaster tenacity, pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday to bribery, money laundering and related charges.
The case stems from a corruption investigation during Nagin's two terms in office, which spanned 2002 to 2010.
A 21-count indictment handed down in January alleges that Nagin, 56, accepted cash and gifts – including trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and New York – as kickbacks in deals he cut with contractors.
Businessmen Frank Fradella and Rodney Williams pleaded guilty last year to bribing Nagin and are expected to testify against him.
At Wednesday's arraignment in New Orleans, U.S. Magistrate Sally Shushan set Nagin's unsecured bond at $100,000, according to the clerk’s office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He was required to surrender his passport and to seek court permission if he wants to travel outside Louisiana or Texas, the Associated Press reported.
As Nagin walked toward the courtroom, reporters peppered him with questions -- a gantlet broadcast live by some local news stations. He ignored most of them, but at least once responded, “No comment.”
“All I can say is we’re going to follow the law,” Nagin's attorney, Robert Jenkins, said as he walked with his client. “Follow what the judge says and move on.”
A pretrial conference is set for April 16.