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Former New Orleans mayor guilty of graft in Katrina recovery

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

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A federal jury on Wednesday found former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin guilty of bribery and corruption in connection with his dealings with contractors in the early years of the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin, 57, faces more than 20 years in prison and will be sentenced at a later date. The jury found him guilty on 20 of the 21 corruption counts that he faced, including bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and tax evasion. He was cleared on one count of bribery.

Nagin showed no obvious reaction as the verdict was read. His wife Seletha sat quietly weeping behind her husband.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Nagin received cash and other favors with a combined value of more than $500,000 from 2005 to 2008. The bribes also included tons of granite sent to a kitchen countertop company he ran with his sons.

During the 10-day trial, the jury heard from some 30 prosecution witnesses, including a City Hall insider and contractors who earlier pleaded guilty to bribing public officials and are awaiting sentencing.

Nagin was accused of diverting some of the money that flowed into the city to rebuild from Katrina into his sons' company. The 2005 storm killed about 1,500 people and caused some $80 billion in damage.

(Reporting by Kathy Finn; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Jonathan Oatis)