NEW ORLEANS – The witness lists for former Mayor Ray Nagin’s corruption trial that were due Wednesday have not been released publicly, but WWL-TV has confirmed that Nagin subpoenaed his former neighbor to testify on his behalf -- and she’s not happy about it.
Julie Sardie of Opelousas was the vice president for Governmental Affairs for MWH Americas, the engineering firm in charge of Katrina rebuilding projects in New Orleans when Nagin was mayor.
She was also Nagin’s neighbor on tony Park Island, a small island of mansions on Bayou St. John. And she delivered all the political contributions the firm gave to Nagin’s campaigns.
“Ray probably said, ‘Julie knows me and could say I never did anything wrong that she saw,’” Sardie said, “which is true. But I don’t know what else I can really say. Maybe they think because Ray lived on the island with me that we were neighborly. Ray was always very nice, but that’s not how it was on Park Island.”
One possibility is that MWH had a subcontract with Three-Fold Consultants before Three-Fold won its own contract in 2008. Three-Fold’s owner Rodney Williams is the government’s star witness against Nagin, and Nagin’s defense team could be looking for witnesses to try to poke holes in prosecutors’ charge that Nagin gave Three-Fold more than $3 million worth of city contracts because Williams agreed to pay Nagin bribes.
Williams has already pleaded guilty to bribing Nagin with $72,000 to get the contracts through a process he controlled. A panel of Nagin administration officials reviewed professional services contracts and Nagin fought the City Council to keep the process secret.
A source with direct knowledge of the process told WWL-TV that Three-Fold scored so poorly before that panel that it shouldn’t have qualified for the work.
Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Chick Foret said Nagin will have to counter that if he goes through with the trial.
“I would anticipate that Mr. Jenkins hopes that he has witnesses that will testify that there was some other governmental process that took place in the awarding of the contracts,” Foret said. “The government will try to put Ray Nagin as close as they can to the awarding of those contracts, the defense will try to distance Ray Nagin from the awarding of those contracts.”
Sardie said she didn’t have anything to do with the contracts, even MWH’s contracting process. She said she never got involved in contracts, never spoke to Nagin about them and can’t understand why she got a subpoena telling her to be at federal court Monday at 8:30 a.m. when jury selection doesn’t even start until 10 a.m.
She said she has called Jenkins at least 10 times since she was served and hasn’t gotten a call back. She said she’s in a wheelchair with an injured leg, can’t drive and doesn’t know how she would even get from Opelousas to New Orleans if forced to testify.
“I don’t want to be involved,” she said. “If I have to, I’ll follow the law. But that’s why I moved to Opelousas.”
Sardie is the second person to confirm she got a subpoena from Nagin. On Monday, lawyer Daniel Davillier told WWL-TV he got one, but said he thought it was an error, spoke with Jenkins and believed he was not going to have to testify.
Robert Jenkins did not respond to comment and he subpoenaed 15 people but getting a subpoena or being named on a witness list does not necessarily mean they will have to testify.