Defense attorney says letters from public helped Nagin in sentencing


Posted on July 9, 2014 at 10:42 PM

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

NEW ORLEANS -- Walking out of federal court, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin broke into a smile, greeting a supporter with his wife Seletha by his side.

Nagin and his defense attorney Robert Jenkins stayed tight-lipped navigating the crowd. But hours later it was a different story.

Jenkins spoke exclusively with WWL Radio's Angela Hill about the federal case and his client.

"He wants to push forward with the appeal immediately,” Jenkins said. “He's more concerned about his family.”

Jenkins confirms Nagin is now appealing his conviction. He faced 15 to 20 years. However, his attorney believes letters of support helped safeguard a more lenient sentence.

"There were a lot of very good letters on his behalf from the public,” Jenkins said. “We had also filed several memorandums as well as the government and we think that all came together to help us get 10 years.”

Prosecutors who hoped for a tougher sentence addressed the media outside the court house, forced to compete with protestors.

"It's obviously a strong sentence,” said federal prosecutor Matthew Coman. “We've objected to the downward departure, but obviously Judge Berrigan found those reasons.”

Back in February, a jury found Nagin guilty of 20 of 21 counts connected to corruptions charges ranging from bribes and free vacation trips.

“Watch out for the prison traps because there are a lot of them,” said Oliver Thomas, a former New Orleans City Council president.

Thomas served time on federal corruption charges inside Oakdale Federal Prison where Nagin is headed.

"Most people can go through life thinking they're OK because they've never been broke, they've never been in prison, they've never been on their death bed,” he said. “But when you have a chance to have that, you can only get better.”

Nagin was ordered to report to Oakdale federal prison on Sept. 8.

He's also asked to pay $84,264 in restitution.

Legal experts say the appeals process could take months, if not years.