Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been charged with 21 federal counts of wire fraud, bribery, filing false tax returns and money laundering.
Mr Nagin, 56, mayor from 2002-10, came to national attention when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.
Beginning in June 2004, Mr Nagin took payments, travel and other gratuities in exchange for city contracts and other favours, prosecutors said.
At least four Nagin associates have already pleaded guilty in the case.
“Mayor Nagin used his public office and his official capacity to provide favorable treatment that benefitted the business and financial interests of individuals providing him bribery/kickback payoffs,” the indictment reads.
According to the federal indictment, Mr Nagin accepted more than $160,000 (£100,000) in bribes from local businessman Frank Fradella.