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Ray Nagin Pleads Not Guilty

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has pleaded not guilty to charges he accepted bribes, free trips and other gratuities in exchange for helping contractors secure millions of dollars in work for the city.

U.S. Magistrate Sally Shushan set Nagin's bond at $100,000 during his arraignment Wednesday on charges that include bribery, wire fraud and filing false tax returns.

A 21-count indictment last month accuses Nagin of accepting more than $200,000 in bribes, free loads of granite for a family business and trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and other places.

The charges against Nagin are the product of a City Hall corruption investigation that already has resulted in guilty pleas by two former city officials and two businessmen and a prison sentence for a former city vendor.

Nagin, a former cable television executive, was a political novice before being elected to his first term as mayor in 2002, buoyed by strong support from White voters. He cast himself a reform-minded progressive who wasn't bound by party affiliations, as he snubbed fellow Democrat Kathleen Blanco and endorsed Republican Bobby Jindal's unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2003.

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