Nagin Trial: Jury working through 21 public corruption counts

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 12 at 1:26 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS — This very well could be verdict day for Ray Nagin.

One day after a medical issue kept one juror from attending deliberations, there is every indication the jury of six men and six women are working their way through the 21 public corruption counts against the former mayor.
 
In doing so, they are also recalling some powerful testimony given during the trial.

The prosecution built its case against Nagin, witness by witness.

Twenty-six people took the stand for the government, five of whom testified they participated in bribing the former mayor in exchange for lucrative city contracts.

Some of the most damaging testimony came from Nagin’s former alleged co-conspirators.

Rodney Williams from Three Fold Consultants explained how he gave Nagin $72,250 in payoffs at a time when the then-mayor’s family-owned business Stone Age Granite was failing.

City contractor Frank Fradella also testified about a number of alleged schemes. Fradella admitted that he and a business partner gave Nagin $112,500 in bribe payments disguised as consultant fees after he left office.

He also told the jury he sent Stone Age two free loads of granite and $50,000 sent from the daughter’s trust account of another business partner, Michael McGrath.

McGrath testified that he dragged his feet paying Nagin the $50,000 that Fradella told him to pay. Fradella emailed his partner, saying, “I spoke to the man yesterday and that wire was never received. Can you check?”

Nagin’s former Chief Technology Officer Greg Meffert took the stand, telling the jury city tech vendor Mark St. Pierre paid for the then-mayor’s family vacations to Hawaii and Jamaica.

He also testified that he helped arrange private jet travel to Chicago for Nagin to watch the Saints NFC championship game in 2006 with Fradella’s company Home Solutions picking up the tab.

That wasn’t the only flight Nagin took that was paid for by someone else. He also flew to New York City on someone else’s dime. Nagin, however, said he was unaware that George Solomon, owner of a local movie theater, paid for the flight to New York.

But the day before the flight in May 2006, Nagin sent an email to Solomon, telling him, “Thanks a bunch. You the man.”

Several Home Depot top officials testified Nagin was hitting them up for granite installation contracts at a time when they wanted to build a new store in Central City. Stone Age eventually got some contracts and Home Depot got the store with incentives from the city.

Sarah Price, who works for Home Depot, testified that Nagin contacted her looking to get in touch with Paul Raines, the Southern Regional Director for the national retailer.

“He wanted to talk about his company Stone Age to see if he could get business with Home Depot. Paul Raines is very high up in the company,” Price testified.

“Were you concerned?” asked Matt Coman, an assistant U.S. attorney.

“Yes, very concerned,” Price responded.

Meanwhile, Home Depot lobbyist Eric Criss sent an email, saying, “These guys better be damn careful. Didn’t we just get an incentive from New Orleans?”

Stone Age eventually did get contracts with Home Depot, though not necessarily to the level where Nagin wanted.

The then-mayor sent an email to Patty Stoddard, who worked for Cane woman, the man in charge of overseeing Home Depot’s service contractors.

In it, he said, “I am somewhat disappointed in the number of jobs we have gotten and a pattern of broken promises. … We need a minimum of 10 jobs per week.

Stoddard testified that she asked Nagin twice to explain what he meant by “pattern of broken promises,” but he deflected.

The defense only called five witnesses, including two of Nagin’s former top officials who testified Nagin had little to do with letting city contracts.

They told the jury selection review panels qualified bidders for city work.

The last witness was Nagin himself. He spent two days on the stand trying to discredit the government’s case.

Nagin told the jury that the so-called bribe payments from Williams were actually investments in Stone Age.

He also testified he had nothing to do with selecting city contractors and that he only signed off on the companies recommended by a committee of other city officials and outside experts.

Nagin had a more difficult time explaining why he used his city of New Orleans credit card to charge tens of thousands of dollars in hotel stays in Cancun and Atlanta and a long list of meals at upscale New Orleans area restaurants.

For three years, meanwhile, prosecutors said the former mayor had undeclared income, including:

Nagin’s undeclared income in 2006:
·    Lawn service: $1,300
·    Cell phones from St. Pierre: $2,791
·    Airfare upgrade to Chicago from St. Pierre: $522
·    50th birthday party from St. Pierre: $1,080
·    2 town homes in Frisco, Texas, rent free: $10,952
·    1 payment from David White: $7,500
·    New York trip from George Solomon: 23,500
·    15 City of New Orleans credit card charges for family members’ air travel: $7,131
Total: $54,797
Total charged to city credit cards by/on behalf of Nagin in 2006: 354 charges, $73,000 on airfare, restaurants and lodging. (Only counted family members’ airfare charges as undeclared income)
 
Nagin’s undeclared income in 2007:
·    2 townhomes in Frisco, Texas, rent free: $10,952
·    Private jet to Chicago/Las Vegas from Fradella/Bennett, $12,925
·    12 City credit card payments for family air travel, $5,232
Total: $29,109
Total charged to city credit cards by/on behalf of Nagin in 2007: $25,553

NEW ORLEANS — This very well could be verdict day for Ray Nagin.

One day after a medical issue kept one juror from attending deliberations, there is every indication the jury of six men and six women are working their way through the 21 public corruption counts against the former mayor.
 
In doing so, they are also recalling some powerful testimony given during the trial.

The prosecution built its case against Nagin, witness by witness.

Twenty-six people took the stand for the government, five of whom testified they participated in bribing the former mayor in exchange for lucrative city contracts.

Some of the most damaging testimony came from Nagin’s former alleged co-conspirators.

Rodney Williams from Three Fold Consultants explained how he gave Nagin $72,250 in payoffs at a time when the then-mayor’s family-owned business Stone Age Granite was failing.

City contractor Frank Fradella also testified about a number of alleged schemes. Fradella admitted that he and a business partner gave Nagin $112,500 in bribe payments disguised as consultant fees after he left office.

He also told the jury he sent Stone Age two free loads of granite and $50,000 sent from the daughter’s trust account of another business partner, Michael McGrath.

McGrath testified that he dragged his feet paying Nagin the $50,000 that Fradella told him to pay. Fradella emailed his partner, saying, “I spoke to the man yesterday and that wire was never received. Can you check?”

Nagin’s former Chief Technology Officer Greg Meffert took the stand, telling the jury city tech vendor Mark St. Pierre paid for the then-mayor’s family vacations to Hawaii and Jamaica.

He also testified that he helped arrange private jet travel to Chicago for Nagin to watch the Saints NFC championship game in 2006 with Fradella’s company Home Solutions picking up the tab.

That wasn’t the only flight Nagin took that was paid for by someone else. He also flew to New York City on someone else’s dime. Nagin, however, said he was unaware that George Solomon, owner of a local movie theater, paid for the flight to New York.

But the day before the flight in May 2006, Nagin sent an email to Solomon, telling him, “Thanks a bunch. You the man.”

Several Home Depot top officials testified Nagin was hitting them up for granite installation contracts at a time when they wanted to build a new store in Central City. Stone Age eventually got some contracts and Home Depot got the store with incentives from the city.

Sarah Price, who works for Home Depot, testified that Nagin contacted her looking to get in touch with Paul Raines, the Southern Regional Director for the national retailer.

“He wanted to talk about his company Stone Age to see if he could get business with Home Depot. Paul Raines is very high up in the company,” Price testified.

“Were you concerned?” asked Matt Coman, an assistant U.S. attorney.

“Yes, very concerned,” Price responded.

Meanwhile, Home Depot lobbyist Eric Criss sent an email, saying, “These guys better be damn careful. Didn’t we just get an incentive from New Orleans?”

Stone Age eventually did get contracts with Home Depot, though not necessarily to the level where Nagin wanted.

The then-mayor sent an email to Patty Stoddard, who worked for Cane woman, the man in charge of overseeing Home Depot’s service contractors.

In it, he said, “I am somewhat disappointed in the number of jobs we have gotten and a pattern of broken promises. … We need a minimum of 10 jobs per week.

Stoddard testified that she asked Nagin twice to explain what he meant by “pattern of broken promises,” but he deflected.

The defense only called five witnesses, including two of Nagin’s former top officials who testified Nagin had little to do with letting city contracts.

They told the jury selection review panels qualified bidders for city work.

The last witness was Nagin himself. He spent two days on the stand trying to discredit the government’s case.

Nagin told the jury that the so-called bribe payments from Williams were actually investments in Stone Age.

He also testified he had nothing to do with selecting city contractors and that he only signed off on the companies recommended by a committee of other city officials and outside experts.

Nagin had a more difficult time explaining why he used his city of New Orleans credit card to charge tens of thousands of dollars in hotel stays in Cancun and Atlanta and a long list of meals at upscale New Orleans area restaurants.

For three years, meanwhile, prosecutors said the former mayor had undeclared income, including:

Nagin’s undeclared income in 2006:

  • Lawn service: $1,300
  • Cell phones from St. Pierre: $2,791
  • Airfare upgrade to Chicago from St. Pierre: $522
  • 50th birthday party from St. Pierre: $1,080
  • 2 town homes in Frisco, Texas, rent free: $10,952
  • 1 payment from David White: $7,500
  • New York trip from George Solomon: 23,500
  • 15 City of New Orleans credit card charges for family members’ air travel: $7,131

Total: $54,797
Total charged to city credit cards by/on behalf of Nagin in 2006: 354 charges, $73,000 on airfare, restaurants and lodging. (Only counted family members’ airfare charges as undeclared income)
 
Nagin’s undeclared income in 2007:

  • 2 townhomes in Frisco, Texas, rent free: $10,952
  • Private jet to Chicago/Las Vegas from Fradella/Bennett, $12,925
  • 12 City credit card payments for family air travel, $5,232

Total: $29,109
Total charged to city credit cards by/on behalf of Nagin in 2007: $25,553
 
Nagin’s undeclared income in 2008:

  • Free granite shipments from Fradella, $52,086
  • Bribes from Rodney Williams, $62,250
  • Bribes from Frank Fradella, $50,000
  • False reimbursement from City for unpaid air travel, $3,264
  • 15 City credit card payments for family members’ air travel: $6,263

Total: $173,784
Total charged to city credit cards by/on behalf of Nagin in 2008: 155 charges $22,000 on airfare, restaurants and lodging.

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