Ex-New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin reportedly faces corruption probe
Former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who gained national prominence with his anguished on-air cries for assistance during the disastrous floods that plagued his city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is the subject of a federal grand jury corruption probe, according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The story by reporter David Hammer, which relies on several anonymous sources, states that the investigation is exploring whether vendors with the city gave Nagin perks such as plane tickets, and equipment and materials to a granite-countertop company owned by Nagin's family.
One element of the probe, according to the paper: whether vendors helped the Nagin family firm secure an exclusive deal to install granite countertops on behalf of local Home Depot stores at the same time Home Depot was trying to buy land for a new store in New Orleans' Central City neighborhood.
Another issue reportedly under consideration: whether Nagin broke any laws by accepting airfare and jet rides to Hawaii, Jamaica and other locales that were provided, the Picayune reports, by Mark St. Pierre, a tech-world businessman who is serving a prison sentence for bribing the Nagin administration's technology chief at the time.
Nagin, the paper says, believed that his technology chief, Greg Meffert, was the source of the free rides. Nagin could be in legal trouble if it turns out that he knew that they were actually provided by St. Pierre.
Meffert pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 2010, according to local TV station WDSU. His attorney has said he is cooperating with federal investigators.
Nagin's attorney, Howard Rosenberg, and Jim Letten, the U.S. attorney in New Orleans, both declined to comment to the Times-Picayune.
-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta
Photo: Former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin in a 2006 file photo. Credit: Diane Bondareff/Associated Press