NEW ORLEANS - Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was seen outside a grand jury room with his lawyer and assistant U.S. attorneys Friday morning.
He was at court for less than two hours, which will most likely not change anything with January deadlines for indictment, according to Eyewitness Investigator David Hammer.
Nagin is believed to be a target of a bribery investigation tied to a couple of recent guilty pleas by his former associates.
It is not certain why Nagin was at federal court, but often grand juries need to have documents they are seeing to be authenticated by those who are involved in them.
Nagin has maintained his innocence all along and so far has not been indicted on any charges.
Speculation has focused on whether or not a plea deal could be in the works, especially since recent court documents in another case have mentioned people close to Nagin, believed to be his sons.
Businessman Rodney Williams pleaded guilty to federal charges on December 5 that he paid more than $62,000 to a granite countertop business owned by a City of New Orleans official and another $10,000 cash to the public official's close family members as payoffs for city contracts.
Sources confirm that the official is former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. And now it's clear that if the government wants to charge Nagin with a crime for the first $60,000 in alleged bribes, they need to do it in a matter of weeks because the statute of limitations for that particular overt act runs out Jan. 31.
Neither the government nor Williams and his attorneys would say who the public official is, but when asked if "Public Official A" named in the court documents is Nagin, Williams' attorney Ralph Capitelli said: "It would be the worst, worst investigative reporter on the planet who couldn't figure out who 'Public Official A' is."
Besides, the four-page factual basis for Williams' guilty plea contains staggeringly obvious clues that it's Nagin.
Williams is the second business man to be convicted of conspiring to of bribe a city of New Orleans official who owned a granite countertop business.
In June, Frank Fradella, a disaster rebuilding contractor, pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a public official also known to be Nagin with $50,000 and truckloads of free granite.
When asked if any other public officials other than Nagin owned a granite countertop business at that time, Capitelli said Eyewitness News "asked a question I think you know the answer to."
Capitelli said Williams would cooperate with the federal investigation. Under the plea agreement, the government agreed to limit Williams' time in prison to 30 to 37 months even though the charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 60 months. (See the factual basis)
Judge Susie Morgan set Williams' sentencing for March 27, 2013