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So we wonder who is really behind this insidious move to once again highlight the prosecution and conviction of Ray Nagin as some shining example of the federal government’s dogged pursuit of justice on behalf of the American people . . .
A team of prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana was awarded for “superior performance” in the case against former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. And U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite further praised the team, according to a local media report, issuing a statement calling the award “well-deserved” and citing the hard work the office has put in on matters surrounding “public corruption”.
Of course, we know that as the leaders of their respective offices Lynch and Polite, both of whom are Black, are the de facto figure heads in this strange boast fest. However, we doubt that Lynch, who only took office a short while ago after a grueling and racially-charged approval process is really all that concerned about or particularly impressed with the work on the Ray Nagin case. We believe she has more important things to concern herself with. Moreover, while Nagin’s trial took place under Polite, the investigation started long before he became the top federal prosecutor for the local U.S. Attorney’s Office. So we wonder who is really behind this insidious move to once again highlight the prosecution and conviction of Ray Nagin as some shining example of the federal government’s dogged pursuit of justice on behalf of the American people?
Did the team on the Nagin case do a job? Yes. Was justice served? We suppose. There was trial, and a jury decided. We can live with that.
But does it really warrant an award? Come on, are they serious?
Why are the U.S. Department of Justice and the local U.S. Attorney’s Office handing out pats on the back for convicting C. Ray Nagin for accepting a few low-budget trips and gifts? Is this the pinnacle of professional success for the nation’s top criminal prosecutors?
So perplexed were we upon getting this news that the lines in our foreheads rumpled as we gazed crosswise in utter amazement (yes…the side-eye glance).
Just one more time to make sure we understood this correctly: The U.S. Department of Justice has honored the U.S. Attorney’s Office in southeastern Louisiana for convicting C. Ray Nagin . . .
Okay. But it seems to us that both of these offices have lost their minds—one for thinking that convicting Ray Nagin is something for which an award should be given and the other for proudly, almost gleefully, accepting the so-called honor.
Then it hits us, with so little else of which to be proud, of course, this case is the radiating example of justice at the highest levels. When all you got is cubic zirconia, you do your best to make it shine.
We get it. The U.S. DOJ couldn’t give out an award for a hard-fought successful federal civil rights case against George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin because, well, earlier this year the administration announced that after reviewing the case for nearly 18 months the office would not lodge federal charges against Zimmerman for violating the Florida teenager’s civil rights.
Ah, but they could honor 15 local federal prosecutors for taking care of Ray Nagin, because that got done.
And there is no way they could give out an award for bringing justice to and rooting out corruption for the people of Ferguson, Mo., because despite all of its findings as laid out in a nearly 90-page report, the Justice Department did not file criminal charges against former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
But honoring the hard workers in the local U.S. Attorney’s office for their almost fanatical persecution…we mean prosecution of C. Ray Nagin well, that’s a different story. You see, prosecuting Nagin—that got done.
Of course, all sorts of accolades came pouring in 2011 after the convictions of Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso, Robert Faulcon and Arthur Kaufman for several charges stemming from the former NOPD officers’ involvement in civil rights violations, conspiracy, cover-up surrounding events that included the deaths of two civilians and the injury of four others on the Danzinger Bridge just days after Hurricane Katrina. And rightfully so. But that diamond has unfortunately lost its luster thanks to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana (under Jim Letten) and the prosecutorial misconduct in the form of Sal Perricone’s and Jan Mann’s online commenting scandal that unraveled those guilty verdicts.
So clearly, there is not much celebrating these days over the Danzinger Bridge case. However, they can have a party over convicting Ray Nagin because, well, they did that; and not even Perricone’s online comments where he shared Nagin’s home address and encouraged readers with guns to pay Nagin a visit could undo the case against the former mayor. Let’s not forget that many of the 15 staffers honored for the Nagin conviction were a part of this office at the very same time that Perricone and Mann under former U.S. Attorney Letten took part in these acts that have now reopened a gaping wound for the city. None of them—Perricone, Mann or Letten—have really been punished for what they did or knew during the online commenting scandal. And it remains rather unclear whether any others in Letten’s office knew or were involved in what was taking place.
But never mind that…they got Ray Nagin.
Next, they will be congratulating themselves for convicting Fred Heebe. Oops, we forgot. Soon after a lawsuit filed by Heebe uncovered the online commenting scandal that rocked the local U.S. Attorney’s office off of its foundation, the feds announced that any investigation into alleged wrong doings of the local businessman was closed. Wonder if the DOJ gives out awards for that?
Ray Nagin is serving 10 years in a federal prison for his crimes; and even if that truly means justice has been served, it ought to be real hard to accept an award for such a thing even as the former NOPD officer who admits…ADMITS to shooting Henry Glover walks free.
Look, we are all for professionals in every field being honored for outstanding work and acumen. But there is something so wrong with this picture. Why do the Justice Department and the local U.S. Attorney’s Office seem satisfied to give and get tributes for doing the work of the office in a case with so few implications and so little impact for the larger society?
We have said it before, and we will say it again, the constant use of phrases “public trust” and words like “corruption” are clearly thrown out to cast a shadow against not only Ray Nagin, but other elected officials, especially Blacks. We know that. We’re used to it. But we also know that anything Nagin has done pales in comparison to the public trust that was corroded by the acts of the rogue officers and vigilantes involved in Danzinger and Glover cases here, Mike Brown in Ferguson or Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. And we find it pretty ridiculous that the Justice Department which has failed the people of these communities in each of these instances has inclination to boast about convicting a man that did not take a life…or much of anything else.
An award…for convicting Ray Nagin…well, we suppose it makes sense once we consider that convicting Nagin is all you really got.
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