Larry Langford Trial Verdict: Birmingham Mayor Found Guilty
Birmingham mayor Larry Langford was found guilty in a trial of corruption charges. He was convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for giving a $7.1 million bond business to an investment banker.
Larry Langford was found guilty to all 60 counts, including criminal conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud. He faces possible life sentence.
If Langford were to receive the statutory maximum sentence, it would be more than 500 years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin said “he won’t get anywhere near that.”
Albert LaPierre, a consultant to the underwriter Blount Parrish & Co., pleaded guilty to bribery, so did the company chairman William Blount. The prosecutor went over evidence to prove Langford took bribes of about $236,000. The defense argued Blount and LaPierre took advantage of Langford, and he did not consider the gifts to be bribes.
Defense attorney Mike Rasmussen told the jury that Blount and LaPierre gave Langford checks and purchased his gifts with credit cards, rather than giving him cash, which the lawyer said would be untraceable. Leaving a paper trail would be illogical for people engaging in a bribery scheme, he said.
Larry Langford is immediately removed from office, and Smitherman has taken his place. A special election should be called within 5 days, and the election would be held within 90 days.
It is possible that a legal question may arise over who will be interim mayor after Smitherman initially takes it. The law states: "While the president of the council is serving as acting mayor, he shall not sit with the council or vote on any matters before the council."
Langford blamed his conviction on racism and local media. He said the prosecutors "struck as many black people off the jury as they could," and "that was not a jury of my peers." Langford said he will appeal.
Langford will be sentenced in 90 to 100 days. Meanwhile, he would be allowed to stay out of prison.