Defense begins for ex-New Orleans mayor's trial

By By KEVIN McGILL

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The defense in the federal corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has begun trying to show the jury that Nagin had little control in the awarding of city contracts.

A former public works director for the city, Robert Mendoza, explained that some contracts were awarded through a bid process and had to go to the lowest bid that met requirements, while others had to meet criteria that the mayor did not set.

Thursday was set to be the first full day of defense testimony for Nagin after five days of testimony from more than two dozen prosecution witnesses, including five who said they were involved in bribing Nagin.

Democrat Nagin was mayor from 2002 until 2010. He was indicted on 21 criminal counts after leaving office.

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