NEW ORLEANS — Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has acknowledged a legal defense fund set up online to raise money for his appeal of his 20-count corruption conviction in February.
WWL-TV broke the story on Friday that NaginLegalDefenseFund.com was soliciting and receiving donations, but there was no record of the trust fund being registered with the Texas or Louisiana Secretary of State, and we were not able to determine if the mayor was involved.
On Sunday, Nagin’s @RayNagin Twitter account praised Jamaal Williams, a local rapper and activist who spoke to WWL-TV about his reasons for donating $10 to Nagin’s defense.
Nagin’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, still hasn’t responded to WWL-TV’s requests for comment.
The website focuses on the scandal involving former top federal prosecutors commenting about cases online, something Jenkins has referenced as he has described Nagin’s appeal options. Some of the prosecutors’ once-anonymous comments focused on Nagin when he was mayor, including one by former prosecutor Sal Perricone that encouraged readers to go to Nagin’s house with weapons.
Jenkins already tried before Nagin’s trial to argue that the comments would taint a jury pool, but Judge Ginger Berrigan said the jury selection process would ensure that wasn’t the case. Even though Nagin’s legal team participated in the jury selection process, with the power to strike jurors without cause, the defense fund website now contends that Nagin did not get a balanced jury.
The jury that was selected convicted Nagin on 20 of 21 felony counts, including bribery, conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and tax evasion.
The defense fund website claims that donations would pay for unspecified “experts’ costs,” appellate legal fees and “living and travel expenses related to clearing the Nagin family name.