Former Mayor Ray Nagin, in a state of near-total financial ruin, will get a public defender to handle his appeal as he prepares to report to federal prison, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan ruled Wednesday.
Nagin filed an affidavit with the court Tuesday saying he has only $23.65 in his checking account and that his wife, Seletha, earns only $360 per month. Nagin attested that he himself has not worked since leaving City Hall more than four years ago. In addition to his wife’s income, Nagin wrote that the family receives $360 a month in food stamps and that friends and relatives typically provide them with gifts and loans of another $500 or so monthly.
A fund set up to help pay for his legal defense has only $30 in it, Nagin wrote. He didn’t say how much the fund took in.
The family’s monthly obligations, though it’s not clear the Nagins have been meeting them, total $3,271, according to Nagin’s affidavit.
The only property the couple owns is a townhome in Frisco, Texas, where they live, and a 2010 Ford Fusion. Those two assets are worth a combined $190,000, Nagin wrote, barely more than the roughly $178,000 they owe on them. The townhome is in foreclosure.
Berrigan ruled Wednesday that those grim circumstances qualify Nagin for a public defender.
Last week, Nagin’s trial lawyer, Robert Jenkins, filed a motion seeking to withdraw from the case because the former mayor was no longer able to pay him.
The Nagin family’s financial problems have been well chronicled. Seletha Nagin filed for bankruptcy in May, a move that seemed designed in part to forestall a foreclosure auction of the family home.
That same month, Berrigan ordered Nagin to forfeit $501,201 to the federal government, an amount she determined he had taken in through his corrupt actions.
The bankruptcy case was discharged in August, records show, but it’s not clear from the filing which of the family’s debts were erased.
Nagin is due to report to federal prison on Monday to begin serving the 10-year sentence imposed by Berrigan.
WDSU-TV, citing an anonymous source, has reported that Nagin has been assigned to a facility in Texarkana, Texas, about three hours’ drive from Frisco.