A tale of two calendars unfolded in federal court Wednesday as prosecutors sought to show that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin tried to hide evidence of his meetings with businessmen who say they bribed the politician to get city backing for their projects.
Television reporter Lee Zurik testified about efforts to obtain Nagin's meeting calendars from 2008. Initially, he received pages with entries blacked out or blank. Under orders from a judge, Zurik said, WWL television was given a calendar with entries showing numerous meetings at different times with businessmen including Frank Fradella and Rodney Williams. Both men have said they bribed Nagin.
Zurik, now with WVUE in New Orleans, testified about Freedom of Information Act requests and a lawsuit that eventually led to the release of an un-redacted version of Nagin's meeting calendar for 2008. Where the first version WWL received had blacked-out entries and numerous blank spaces, the second version displayed by prosecutors had no blackouts and numerous entries of meetings scheduled with Fradella, Williams and others pursuing business with the city or Nagin's support for projects.
In cross examination, defense lawyer Robert Jenkins said the city turned over the calendars, making the point that there was no evidence that Nagin made the changes.
Kathleen Allen, an attorney an official with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, testified that Nagin failed to turn over various documents related to a board of investigation into the granite company he and his family owned.
Earlier Wednesday, IRS agent Tim Moore returned to the stand for cross examination by Jenkins.
On Tuesday, Moore had outlined allegations that Nagin failed to report income from various sources on his tax returns, including payments that Moore characterized as bribes.
Jenkins repeatedly noted the lack of voice or video recordings proving that bribes were paid.
Prosecutors began presenting their case last Thursday, calling former city contractors and other witnesses and producing numerous emails and documents aimed at proving the former mayor received money, free vacation travel and free granite for his family business— bribes worth more than $500,000 — for helping contractors receive millions of dollars' worth of city work.
Nagin, a Democrat, served as mayor from 2002 to 2010. Prosecutors allege that corruption spanned the two terms and included the period after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, when contractors sought to benefit from potentially lucrative rebuilding jobs in the devastated city.