NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, on trial for corruption, tried to get Home Depot to swing business to a family business, a corporate official testified Tuesday.
Home Depot government relations official Kent Knutson said in U.S. District Court Nagin approached company Chief Executive Officer Frank Blake in 2007 about smoothing out a problem with a community group in return for steering contracts to a kitchen counter top business owned by Nagin and his son, Stone Age, the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.
Prosecutors produced an email in which Blake asked Knutson about a voicemail he had received from Nagin asking if his help was needed on the neighborhood group issue at a Home Depot store going up in New Orleans.
Knutson wrote back that it was "most likely" about Nagin's son wanting to be a Home Depot vendor. "Knowing how New Orleans operates, the mayor will be certain to plug his family business," Knutson wrote, who also called the mayor and community groups "shake-down artists," the newspaper said.
"Everybody was wanting something," Knutson testified. "The requests didn't end."
Nagin defense attorney Robert Jenkins tried to deflect the impact of Knutson's statement onto New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head, getting Knutson to answer affirmatively when asked if it was Head, not Nagin, who had pressed for the community benefits agreement.
Prosecutor Matt Coman asked Knutson what Head was after from Home Depot, and Knutson replied, "Community benefits." Asked what Nagin wanted, Knutson answered, "Stone Age. Contracts for Stone Age."
Nagin, a Democrat who was mayor from 2002-2010, stands accused by several former city officials and businessmen who have taken plea deals in exchange for their testimony against the former two-term mayor that he accepted bribes in exchange for offering no-bid contracts to people.