Ray Nagin, the former mayor of New Orleans on whose watch the post-Hurricane Katrina gun grab was launched and then stopped by a federal lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association, was sentenced today to ten years in prison on charges of corruption during his administration.
A former member of Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Nagin is one of several former mayors involved in that group who have been convicted of serious crimes. He was convicted in February in federal court.
Nagin, who was compelled to apologize for his remarks describing New Orleans as a “chocolate city” after the devastating hurricane, was convicted of bribery, fraud and money laundering, according to the Los Angeles Times. Nagin, a Democrat, received a lighter sentence than had been sought, and the New York Times story suggested that this could set up an appeal.
The gun confiscations began almost immediately after the storm subsided in 2005. Within hours after police officials told reporters that nobody would be allowed to have firearms, SAF and NRA were working on the landmark legal action that would ultimately stop the confiscations. By some estimates, more than 1,100 firearms were taken by police and National Guard units, without warrant, due process or probable cause.
The memory of that legal battle inspired SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, who also serves as chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, to include a prohibition on such gun confiscations in Initiative 591. That’s the Washington State measure on November’s ballot that also mandates that background checks done in the state comply with a uniform national standard.
CCRKBA is part of a grassroots coalition pushing the initiative. Protect Our Gun Rights (POGR) includes hunters, law enforcement professionals, target shooters, gun collectors and Second Amendment activists. Yesterday, Joe Dawson, president of the Washington State Retired Deputy Sheriffs and Police Officers Association, added his personal support to the I-591 effort.
Nagin was arrested in January 2013 and convicted earlier this year. He left office in 2010, five years after the devastating hurricane, but the city’s recovery took up most of his second term, during which much of the corruption occurred.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan. He could have been confined for much longer under sentencing guidelines that range up to 20 years. But the judge cited character references in her decision. Yet, Nagin denied any wrongdoing during the trial, even to the point of not recognizing his own signature, one report noted.
Some newspaper reports said that Nagin was believed to have taken as much as a half-million dollars as his share of profits from the corruption scandal. However, one report said he is in “financial ruin” today, indicating that he may have a tough time paying the $82,000 fine that is also part of his sentence.
Many if not most of the firearms that were confiscated by authorities following the hurricane were left to rust in storage containers. Initially, the city denied having taken anyone’s guns, but attorneys for SAF and NRA moved for contempt because of the city’s deliberate foot-dragging, and ultimately were shown the confiscated guns.
While the federal court ordered the confiscations halted, and ultimately found for SAF and NRA, nobody was ever held accountable for issuing the confiscation order. The incident did allow the NRA to hammer hard against the notion that such confiscations could never happen in America.