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Judge denies former New Orleans mayor's bid to delay trial

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A judge on Friday denied an effort by former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to postpone his corruption trial, which he said had been compromised by inflammatory comments posted online by prosecutors.

Nagin's argument for a delay stemmed from online postings that recently prompted a federal judge to order a new trial in a murder case involving five New Orleans policemen convicted in connection with the shooting deaths of two unarmed people at Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin said he had been the target of online postings "of the same ilk and the same pejorative nature," which affected his ability to get a fair trial, his attorneys argued.

U.S. District Judge Helen Ginger Berrigan in an order filed on Friday called the postings "utterly juvenile," but said, "The jury, and only the jury, will decide whether the defendant is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Nagin's trial is scheduled to begin on October 28.

The extensive postings were made under aliases by three U.S. Justice Department lawyers on a New Orleans newspaper website before and during the officers' 2011 trial.

Nagin, who was mayor during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is accused of receiving kickbacks in exchange for city contracts, and wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

In the postings, Nagin and two other former New Orleans mayors were called the "three stooges" and referred to as incompetent.

Several businessmen linked with Nagin have reached deals with prosecutors to provide evidence against him.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Cooney)

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