In Birmingham, Ala., Mayor Larry Langford was recently accused of allegedly taking bribes from investment bankers in exchange for money to excel their businesses, according to a USA Today article.
The accusations are pointed toward Langford’s time spent as President of Jefferson County Commission from 2002 to 2006. He later ran for mayor in 2007 and – with his background as a television news reporter – won by a landslide.
During his four year period as the President, Langford allegedly supplied $7.1 million in swap bonds with Blount Parrish and Co. in exchange for bribes which consisted of cash, clothes and jewelry.
The “deals” created a financial crisis for the state of Alabama, in addition to the economic credit downfall.
He has been charged with multiple counts of bribery, conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and tax evasions. If Langford gets convicted on any one of these felony charges alone, he could face not only jail time, but removal from office.
Investment banker Bill Blount pleaded guilty to paying bribes to the Mayor along with Lobbyist Al LaPierre who claimed to play the middle-man role in the bribes, sometimes exchanging money between the two other men.
According to a CNN article, U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said the three men conspired to solicit and to accept bribes; and to use influence and position to ensure that Blount and his company, Blount Parrish Inc., was involved in Jefferson County’s bonds and swap transactions related to multibillion-dollar sewer debt.
In his plea agreement, Blount will serve as a witness for the prosecution. He admitted to bribing Mayor Langford to commit to the deals that made his company millions richer.
Langford claims the so called “bribes” were really an exchange of gifts between friends and that the charges brought against him was by a Republican prosecutor to target against Alabama Democrats for political reasons.
Jim Spearman who is the executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party said that Republican prosecutors do appear to target Democrats, but he also stated that Langford has not been associated with the Democratic Party for many years.
His trial will be held 55 miles outside Birmingham in Tuscaloosa, Ala., because of all the publicity already surrounding the case. This is to ensure that there will be no biases or effect on the trial itself.
All three men could face fines and prison time. They could face a maximum of 10 years for each count of bribery and money laundering; 20 years for fraud; five years for conspiracy; and three years for each tax count.
Langford himself has 60 counts charged against him.