Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS - A little more than two weeks before he is scheduled to be sentenced on federal corruption charges, convicted former Mayor Ray Nagin is asking the judge for leniency, with his attorney calling him a respected community figure with no prior criminal record.
“The totality of circumstances regarding Mr. Nagin favor a reduced sentence,” writes attorney Robert Jenkins in his motion filed Friday. He cites the fact that Nagin has no prior criminal history.
Nagin, who was found guilty on 20 federal counts in February, is set to be sentenced July 2 by Judge Helen “Ginger” Berrigan. Legal analysts say he could face up to 20 years in prison.
“Mr. Nagin had a completely sterling record,” Jenkins says, adding that the former mayor is also the caretaker for his wife and children.
Jenkins calls the possible prison time and probation a "virtual life sentence" and says the impact on Nagin's young daughter, wife, and elderly parents would be detrimental.
"It must be emphasized that a sentence in the range calculated in the Presentence Report will necessarily mean that Mr. Nagin's daughter will grow up without her father," Jenkins says. "His role as a father is irreplaceable.... The extreme and excessive impact on his young family must be considered."
Nagin's two sons, and their role in the family granite business which figured into the allegations, were both mentioned during the trial.
In his motion filed Friday, Jenkins references numerous “character letters,” which have not yet been released to the public, with people vouching for the former mayor.
“It is hard for those who know him, both close friends and family…to believe that Mr. Nagin was even capable of having the criminal intent to commit the crimes for which he was convicted,” Jenkins writes. “The allegations…as well as the Government’s evidence at trial are a complete aberration to his otherwise outstanding life as a businessman, family member and citizen.”
In his motion Jenkins also cites various cases which called for lesser sentences for defendants because of no prior criminal record. Among them, former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who was sentenced to 120 months, "approximately one-half of the low end of the Total Offense Level and guideline calculation in the present case."
Jenkins also says since Nagin's crimes were white-collar, the judge should consider a lesser sentence.
"Although serious felony convictions were returned by the jury, Mr. Nagin's actions never involved violence, injury to others, or drugs. His were purely economic crimes. No one was placed in physical danger as a result of Mr. Nagin's conduct," Jenkins claims.
He also quotes the federal government's own presentencing report, which has not been made public, and repeats some of Jenkins' claims, including the fact that the ex-mayor had a clean record, has been married for more than 30 years in a "long-term stable relationship" and there is "no indication that the defendant is likely to commit any further crimes."