Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin could have faced a prison sentence twice as long as the 10 years handed down yesterday by federal judge Ginger Berrigan, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. In fact, the sentence was five years shorter than the 15 years Berrigan cited as the minimum called for under federal guidelines. The deviation from the range marked a rare move that Berrigan justified with a fairly sympathetic take on the bribery conspiracy for which Nagin was convicted.
Five key factors that weighed in his favor: Nagin didn’t lead the conspiracy–he followed; He didn’t pad his pockets so outrageously as some others; Nagin’s sentence is shorter than the 13-year term handed down for former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson and longer than the nearly four years given to former Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard, who took a plea deal he is currently fighting to get out from under; Nagin is unlikely to run for office again at age 58, and he helped his family more than he enriched himself. “Ten years is not a slap on the wrist. I think she gave him a fair and just sentence,” said criminal defense attorney Tim Meche.