Posted Dec. 3, 2008 – Federal agents arrested Birmingham Mayor Larry P. Langford, on Monday, charging him with taking bribes in exchange for doling out county financial business to a favored firm when he led the Jefferson County Commission from 2002 to 2006, reports The New York Times.
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Langford, 60, was charged in the 101-count indictment with taking over $230,000 in cash, clothing and jewelry for making sure that a well known Alabama investment banker and bond company owner, William B. Blount, got a portion of lucrative bond deals related to the financing of improvements to Jefferson County's failing sewer system. Those deals have put the county, which includes Birmingham, on the brink of bankruptcy.
While the financing was largely handled by outside firms, such as JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, federal authorities, in announcing the indictment, said Langford, in his capacity as County Commission president, was in a position to make sure Blount was included in the financing. Blount and his company received more than $7.1 million in fees from 2003 to 2006, according to Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney in Birmingham. Blount was also named in the indictment along with Langford and his acquaintance, lobbyist Al LaPierre.
The indictment charges the men with bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and conspiracy. In his decades as a politician, Langford built a reputation as a flamboyant, high-rolling political figure with a penchant for expensive clothing, according to the Times.
Langford's trial could begin in 60 days for his involvement in what authorities are calling a "pay-to-play scheme," Fox News reports. Langford says he has no intentions of letting the indictment keep him from serving as mayor.