Unsealed documents detail dispute between New Orleans businessmen in Ray Nagin corruption case

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NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge has unsealed several documents connected to two prominent figures in former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's corruption case, revealing more details of a financial dispute involving the former government witnesses.

Local media outlets are reporting that New Orleans businessman Scott Sewell contends in the documents that he is a whistleblower who should be compensated for more than $5 million in losses he suffered at the hands of former business partner Frank Fradella.

Sewell's attorney, Timothy Meche, said federal officials are improperly shielding Fradella from repaying his fraud victims because Fradella provided key bribery testimony in Nagin's trial. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan ordered several of the documents unsealed late last month.

Sewell's claim to victimhood stems from his 2006 decision to sell his company, Associated Contractors, to Fradella's Home Solutions of America for roughly $6.5 million in stock and cash. Sewell argues that he made the decision to sell based in part on a review of Home Solutions' books, which, unknown to him, Fradella had been cooking.

So far, Sewell's efforts to be recognized as a crime victim eligible for restitution from Fradella — who is now serving a one-year prison term for bribing Nagin — have been for naught. And that seems unlikely to change: Federal prosecutors, probation officers and a magistrate judge all have said Sewell doesn't qualify, and Morgan has agreed with their findings.

Nagin was convicted in February 2014 of 20 federal corruption charges, and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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