NEW ORLEANS – A day after the star witness for federal prosecutors testified he received bribes from former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and was rewarded with lucrative city contracts, Nagin’s defense attorney attempted to discredit that testimony by attacking the character of the witness.
Nagin's attorney, Robert Jenkins, started the day Friday needing to damage the credibility of the government's star witness, Rodney Williams. Williams was rather convincing when he testified that he and his partners bribed the mayor to get $2.5 million dollars in city contracts.
Friday, Jenkins went after Williams. “Many of their witnesses have a lot of baggage, and especially Mr. Rodney Williams,” Jenkins said.
In his cross-examination, Jenkins accused Williams of committing FEMA fraud in a project rebuilding St. Mary's Academy in New Orleans East. Williams denied it.
Williams said he and his partners went to the FBI because they were being threatened by someone else on the project. But his partner Bassam Mekari told a different story, saying they went to the FBI because they heard about the FEMA fraud investigation.
We caught up with Jenkins as the defense team left court Friday and he told us his take on the testimony.
“I knew his partner would come in and tell the truth because he had lied about it,” Jenkins said.
When asked if Mekari's testimony incriminated Rodney Williams, “Without a doubt,” Jenkins replied.
But the truth is Mekari didn't say they were involved in any FEMA fraud, and Jenkins said he doesn't really know for sure.
When asked if they were participants in the FEMA fraud, “Well, I don't know anything about that, but we knew about the allegations,” Jenkins said.
So Nagin's best chance to attack his accusers may have fallen by the wayside.