Corruption trial of ex-New Orleans mayor resumes
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A businessman told a jury Monday that he arranged for former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to receive monthly payments of more than $12,000 after leaving office, part of what prosecutors say was the multifaceted bribery scheme that has landed the ex-official in federal court.
Nagin's corruption trial entered its second week with Frank Fradella returning to the stand. Testifying as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Fradella detailed an arrangement for consultant work that prosecutors say eventually led to $112,250 going to Nagin. The payments were made after he was mayor but constituted bribes for favors during his time in office, prosecutors said.
Fradella is the fourth witness to take the stand and say he made payoffs to Nagin. Last week, he detailed arrangements to get $50,000 to Nagin when the then-mayor said he needed money to support Stone Age, the family company he founded with his sons. Fradella also said he paid Nagin off with free granite for the business.
As he has with other witnesses, Nagin defense attorney Robert Jenkins attacked Fradella's credibility, noting that the plea agreement. Fradella acknowledged the deal and affirmed that he had pleaded guilty in an unrelated case involving insider stock trading. It was transferred from Texas to the federal district in New Orleans, Jenkins noted, suggesting that Fradella hoped for leniency in that case as a result of his testimony against Nagin.
Fradella said he didn't know whether consolidating the Texas and Louisiana cases benefited him. "I don't know that we would have gotten a better deal," he said.
Jenkins also noted an email in which Nagin explicitly said to a Fradella associate that the city would not do business with Fradella's company as long as the company had a business relationship with his sons. Fradella said he eventually dealt with Nagin himself and said money and free granite his company supplied were payoffs.
Nagin was mayor from 2002 to 2010, including the tumultuous period during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
He was indicted after leaving office. The 21-count indictment accuses him of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes — including money, trips and truckloads of free granite from Fradella — in return for helping contractors secure city business. Charges include bribery, money laundering, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
The trial is expected to last into next week.
Fradella pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit bribery in the Nagin case. He also pleaded guilty to a securities fraud charge in the case that originated in Dallas.