Signs point to possible Ray Nagin federal probe


Posted on May 23, 2012 at 10:22 PM

Updated Thursday, May 24 at 12:04 AM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Is the government building a case against former Mayor Ray Nagin?

Eyewitness News has uncovered new signs of a possible investigation that include a delay in the sentencing of Greg Meffert, Nagin's former tech chief who was convicted on corruption charges.

A year and a half ago, Meffert pleaded guilty in federal court to those charges and was supposed to be sentenced on Thursday. However, Meffert's attorney confirms that is no longer the case.

"I don't know what's going to be the final date but it's definitely not going on tomorrow," said Randy Smith during a telephone interview. Smith is the attorney representing Meffert.

The charges against Meffert stem from his position as the city's chief technology officer under then-Mayor Ray Nagin.

A Times-Picayune report back in February claimed Nagin received possible gratuities like trips to Hawaii and Jamaica -- all in exchange for city contracts.

Investigators claimed the mayor's trips were paid for with a credit card given to Meffert by local businessman Mark St. Pierre. Both St. Pierre and Meffert would plead guilty to bribery and other charges.

Now WWL-TV has learned Meffert is cooperating with the feds.

"All I can really tell you is that he's continuing to cooperate with the United States Government," said Smith.

Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Chick Foret said the fact that Meffert's sentencing has been pushed back can only mean one thing.

"We know that Mr. Meffert was a high-ranking official in city government. We can certainly assume that any information he had about anyone, whether it was co-workers, elected officials or anybody with anyone he had dealings with, that information is being provided to the government," said Foret.

Back in February, Eyewitness News caught up with Nagin, who said he wasn't the focus of a federal probe but rather a 3-year-old ethics complaint.

"They're 3 years old. They keep coming up. I only want an opportunity to finally deal with them and hopefully we can have an honest open and approach where truth and justice prevails," said Nagin during that exclusive interview.

Court documents obtained by WWL-TV show that federal prosecutors have asked to seal the documents -- essentially protecting confidential information in Meffert's case.

"Information is a currency and you get an exchange for your information. You exchange that currency for a lesser sentence," said Foret of Meffert's attempt to land a more lenient sentence.

Meffert's sentencing is now scheduled for Sept. 13.

Eyewitness News tried reaching out to Nagin for a comment on this story, but our phone call to his attorney was not returned by Wednesday night.