6 Black Mayors Who Were Busted By Feds And Served Hard Time In The Pen For Corruption

6 Black Mayors Who Were Busted By Feds And Served Hard Time In The Pen For Corruption

6 Black Mayors Who Were Busted By Feds And Served Hard Time In The Pen For Corruption Photo: Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, left, leaves federal court after his conviction, Feb. 12, 2014 photo. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)/Photo: Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, center, leaves the U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., July 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Mike Derer) Photo: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, right, Jan. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Over the years, more Black people have entered politics and many became mayors of major U.S. cities. The first Black mayors of a large U.S. city were voted into power in 1967 when Carl Stokes was elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, and Richard Hatcher was elected mayor of Gary, Ind. Kenneth Gibson was elected mayor of Newark in 1970. 

Of the 100 largest cities in the U.S., 39 have elected Black mayors. In 2018, 57.1 percent of Black mayors served in cities with 40,000 people or more that did not have a Black majority population, Black Demographics reported.

Not all Black mayors have had successful terms. Here are six Black mayors who were busted by the Feds and served hard time in the pen for corruption.

1. Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans, Louisana

The pandemic resulted in an early release in April 2020 for Ray Nagin, the ex-Mayor of New Orleans, who was convicted on corruption charges in 2014. He was initially due for a 2023 release from federal prison. He had about three years shaved off his 10-year prison term.

Nagin, 63, was the beneficiary of a policy implemented by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who ordered the Bureau of Prisons to consider the age and vulnerability of a inmate to covid-19, conduct in prison, and a re-entry plan. Priority was given to inmates in low- and medium-security facilities such as the camp in Texarkana where Nagin was held, Nola reported.

Nagin, who didn’t have a prior criminal record and had completed most of his sentence, turned out to be “a perfect candidate” for an early release under Barr’s directive, according to Claude Kelly, the federal public defender whose office represented Nagin in his failed appeal.

Nagin was convicted on corruption charges ranging from wire fraud to bribery and tax evasion. Although he always maintained his innocence, a jury found he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and free granite slabs for a family countertop business in exchange for steering city work to certain contractors.

Nagin was also ordered to pay $84,264 in restitution and to forfeit more than $500,000. His family had by then filed for bankruptcy.

Al the time of the sentencing, the family owed almost $42,840 in back taxes to the IRS and had more than $180,400 in outstanding loans or other debts, Nola reported. Meanwhile, in court documents at the time, Nagin’s wife, Seletha, reported that she was working as a clerk at Bath and Body Works in Frisco and earning about $490 a month. The family was receiving food stamps, which provided $312 a month, as well as about $400 a month from their sons Jeremy and Jarin, who were unindicted co-conspirators in the corruption case.

2. Catherine Pugh, Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland

At the beginning of the 2020, Catherine Pugh, the former mayor of Baltimore, was sentenced after pleading guilty to federal charges.

Pugh, who held elected offices in Baltimore for two decades, was elected mayor in 2016. Four years later she was sentenced to three years in federal prison for a fraud scheme involving a children’s book series she had written.

The fall of Pugh, 69, began in March 2019 when The Baltimore Sun revealed she had entered into a no-bid deal with the University of Maryland Medical System, where she sat on the board of directors, to buy 100,000 copies of her self-published “Healthy Holly” books for $500,000. She later resigned from the board and as mayor under multiple investigations into her finances and book sales. She netted more than $850,000 from the book deal, prosecutors said.

“At the same time, she failed to print thousands of copies, double-sold thousands more and took many others to use for self-promotion, according to prosecutors. Investigators also uncovered that she laundered illegal campaign contributions and failed to pay taxes,” The Baltimore Sun reported. 

3. Kwame Kilpatrick, Mayor of Detroit, Michigan

Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit, wasn’t as lucky as Nagin. He was denied in May for early release due to the covid-19 outbreak, the Bureau of Prisons office of public affairs wrote in an email to The Detroit News. Kilpatrick is still incarcerated at the low-security prison in Oakdale, La., where his release date is January 2037. 

Kilpatrick, 49, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and sentenced in 2013 on two dozen counts of using his positions as mayor and state representative to carry out a decade-long criminal racket involving extortion, bribery, conspiracy and fraud. He received a 28-year sentence, which tied with Ohio county politician Jimmy Dimora for the longest federal prison sentence for a corrupt public official in U.S. history.

Many supporters have argued that the sentence is too severe. Kilpatrick even sought clemency from Trump but reportedly didn’t meet the Justice Department’s standards for considering a reduction of his prison sentence. 

4. James L. Usry, Mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey

On July 28, 1989, James Usry was arrested along with 13 other Atlantic City officials for bribery, conspiracy, unlawful gifts, and official misconduct. Usry pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds and was sentenced to 60 hours of community service. All other charges against him were dropped. The arrests came after an eight-month state investigation, AP News reported. Usry died in 2002.

5. Sharpe James, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey  

The former mayor of Newark has been in hot water a number of times. On April 16, 2008, a federal jury convicted James of rigging the sale of city real estate to his mistress, Tamika Riley. Riley then resold the properties, making hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit. James received two years in federal prison, NJ.com reported.

In 2011, James was ordered to serve 27 months in prison and pay a $100,000 fine for fraud and conspiracy, The New York Times reported.

This happened just as James began a bid to have his 2008 conviction on fraud and tax evasion charges overturned on grounds that a juror had not been truthful in pretrial questioning.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.

6. Bill Campbell, Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia

In August 2004, former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was indicted on federal charges of racketeering, bribery, and wire fraud after a five-year federal investigation, AtlantaJournal Constitution reported. He was also convicted of failing to pay taxes on $160,000 of income from 1997 to 1999 while he was mayor.

Two years later, in March  2006, he was convicted on three counts of tax evasion and sentenced to 30 months in prison, a $6,000 fine, and a year of probation. He was also ordered to pay back $60,000 in back taxes. He was released from prison on Oct. 24, 2008.     

Read more: CityMayors.com provides a list of U.S. mayors who used their offices to enrich themselves and/or their associates.