NEW ORLEANS -- Former Mayor Ray Nagin’s sentencing has been delayed another week and is now set for Wednesday, July 9, before U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan.
It’s the second time Nagin’s sentencing has been pushed back since he was convicted on 20 of 21 federal corruption counts in February.
Nagin’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, has asked for a hearing to ask Berrigan for a lenient sentence, below the federal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines determine a sentencing range based on a score given by U.S. probation officers, who have filed a pre-sentencing report on Nagin under seal -- meaning it is not publicly available.
Because the report is secret, it’s not totally clear how much time the probation officers recommend for Nagin's sentence, but in a filing last week, Jenkins implied that the low end of the guideline calculation in the report was about 20 years.
He called that a "virtual life sentence" for the mayor, who turned 58 on June 11, the day he was originally going to be sentenced.
Jenkins suggested that the low end of the recommendation was 20 years when he wrote that former Gov. Edwin Edwards received a sentence “approximately one-half of the low end of the Total Offense Level and guideline calculation in the present (Nagin) case.”
Jenkins mentioned Edwards to argue that a 20-year sentence would be extreme for Nagin and that Berrigan should grant a "downward departure" from the sentencing guidelines. Jenkins noted that Edwards, who was convicted of racketeering, fraud and conspiracy in 2001, held a higher governmental position than Nagin and his crimes involved losses of $2.5 million to $5 million, at least five times as much money as the $501,000 that Nagin gained illicitly in this case.
Jenkins said it would be "unconstitutionally excessive" to sentence Nagin to more than twice as much time as Edwards got. At the same time, Jenkins' filings make no mention of the 17-and-a-half-year sentence already imposed on Nagin technology vendor Mark St. Pierre for his role as one of several co-conspirators in the case.