April 2, 2013 / 12:00 AM / 7 years ago

Trial of former New Orleans mayor delayed until October

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin arrives at court in New Orleans February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

(Reuters) - The federal public corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, which was scheduled to start in late April, has been delayed until October after a joint request by prosecutors and defense attorneys, a court order filed on Monday said.

Nagin, who had chided federal officials for their slow response after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, was accused in a grand jury indictment in January of taking kickbacks in exchange for city contracts.

The joint request for more time had said, “The nature of the present prosecution is complex and involves an extensive amount of electronic and documentary discovery.”

The 21-count indictment included charges of bribery, money laundering, conspiracy and tax violations. Nagin, who now lives in Texas, pleaded not guilty to all charges in February before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan.

The trial had been scheduled to start on April 29, but was moved to October 7 under the order dated April 1 signed by U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan.

Nagin was a little-known businessman when he won election in 2002 after wooing voters with promises to think outside the box and rid City Hall of patronage. He served eight years as mayor.

In 2005, after Katrina struck and several levees crumbled, Nagin’s desperate plea for federal officials to “get off your asses” and help was heard worldwide. He was widely criticized after the storm for overseeing a halting recovery.

New Orleans has a history rich with political intrigue, but Nagin is the first mayor to face criminal charges.

Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh

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