NEW ORLEANS — When Ray Nagin was elected mayor in 2002, there was real hope that he was a break from the city's sleazy past.
Three years later, with New Orleans awash in foul water and rotting corpses after Hurricane Katrina, he became something of a national cult hero, raging against the slow federal response to his crippled city's plight.
In the end, though, Ray Nagin turned out to be a feckless mayor and, as a federal judge saw it, a lightweight criminal.
"He started out as a rock star and he ended up as just another crass, corrupt politician," said University of New Orleans political science professor Ed Chervenak.
Nagin, a 58-year-old former cable television manager, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday for bribery, money laundering, fraud and tax violations during his two terms as mayor from 2002-2010.
Prosecutors had been pushing for a sentence of about 20 years for Nagin, convicted in February of 20 criminal counts.
U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan acknowledged the seriousness. But she cast Nagin as less than a kingpin. He is thought to have cleared only about a half million dollars — in money, free trips, granite for a foundering family business — in his eight years.
He will remain free on bond until he reports to prison Sept. 8.