Birmingham mayor arrested on corruption charges
Birmingham, Ala., Mayor Larry Langford has been named in a 101-count federal indictment — 60 of which apply directly to Langford — on charges including conspiracy, bribery, fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns, all of which relate to bond and financial transactions for Jefferson County that have put the city in financial peril. The indictment, issued Monday by the office of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Alice Martin, accuses Langford of receiving approximately $235,000 in bribes from two Alabama financiers, who also were indicted.
According to the indictment, between 2003 and 2006, Langford, as president of the Jefferson County Commission, included Montgomery, Ala., investment banker William Blount’s firm on several bond and swap transactions related to the county’s multi-billion dollar sewer debt. Blount’s firm received more than $7 million in fees, sometimes from other firms that were forced to pay those fees, and Blount, in turn, paid Birmingham lobbyist Albert LaPierre consulting fees. “Langford owed a duty of loyalty to Jefferson County in the administration of the county’s financial affairs. He sold out his public office to his friends Blount and LaPierre for about $235,000 in expensive clothes, Rolex watches and cash to pay his growing personal debt,” Martin said in a statement.
Langford appeared in court and was released on a $50,000 bond, according to the Associated Press (AP). City business was continuing as usual, said April Odom, director of communications for Langford’s office. “We are glad the mayor will finally have his day in court,” Odom said in a statement. “As members of his team, we stand behind him and look forward to the day when we can return the focus to the important issues before the city.” Birmingham and Jefferson County now face $3.2 billion in debt for the sewer bonds and may have to declare bankruptcy, according to AP.
All three defendants face substantial prison sentences and fines if convicted on the charges. View the entire indictment.