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Lawyer seeks to reduce amount of money feds might seize from former New Orleans mayor

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NEW ORLEANS — Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is fighting federal prosecutors' efforts to seize more than a half-million dollars they say he should forfeit as a result of his conviction on federal corruption charges.

Prosecutors last week said Nagin, who plans an appeal of his conviction, should be forced to turn over more than $501,000 related to his February conviction on bribery, wire fraud and money laundering charges. Nagin's lawyer, Robert Jenkins, said in a Friday filing that the government's request should be denied because, in two instances, Nagin shares liability with others named in the indictment against him.

Those allegations involve amounts totaling more than $210,000. They relate to a national retailer that was never charged in the case and a businessman who admitted, in a plea deal, that he supplied free granite to a Nagin family business.

No hearing date has been set on the forfeiture issue. Nagin is set for sentencing on June 11.

Nagin was convicted on 20 criminal counts that also included conspiracy and filing false tax returns. The charges stemmed from his two terms as New Orleans mayor from 2002 to 2010, including the recovery that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In the forfeiture motion last week, prosecutors listed 11 instances in which they said Nagin received some sort of illegal payment: money, goods or other benefits. They value the total value of those payments at $501,200.

Jenkins, in his filing Friday, said the jury found that Nagin alone received goods or services in nine of those instances.

But in two instances he said others share liability for forfeiture. He singled out allegations that convicted businessman Frank Fradella gave granite to a granite business owned by Nagin's family; and that Nagin helped to procure work for the business from The Home Depot while Home Depot was working to establish a new store in New Orleans.

Fradella testified against Nagin in a plea deal with federal authorities and is awaiting sentencing June 16. An attorney for Fradella had not filed a response to Jenkins' motion as of late Friday.

Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes said in an email Friday that lawyers for the retailer, which was not charged with a crime, had not seen the filing and had no comment.

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