Chicago (AFP) – Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin — who rose to national prominence for his handling of Hurricane Katrina — was found guilty Wednesday of federal bribery and corruption charges.
Nagin was a beloved figure in the Big Easy despite his botched initial response to the devastating storm which flooded the low-lying coastal city and killed more than 1,800 people across the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005.
His colorful commentary was captured in a talking keychain dubbed “Da Mayor in Your Pocket” which included clips of Nagin saying “You gotta be kidding me” and “Excuse my French, everybody in America — but, I am pissed.”
A jury found that the Democrat politician was accepting bribes and soliciting kickbacks months before the storm and continued to line his pockets for years afterwards, racking up illicit gains of half a million dollars.
The kickbacks received in exchange for favorable treatment on city contracts were laundered through Nagin’s granite counter company and also came as cash and trips on corporate jets.
Nagin’s lawyer vowed to appeal the verdict as he left the courthouse with the former mayor, who told a scrum of reporters “I maintain my innocence.”