December 2, 2008
Perp Walk: Larry Langford (Birmingham Mayor)
Did you see where the feds arrested the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, yesterday? It turns out that Mayor Larry Langford for his part in a corruption probe surrounding a massive sewer bond debt that has forced Jefferson County to the brink of bankruptcy.
The US Attorney indicted Mayor Langford on 60 counts including bribery, conspiracy and filing false tax returns. Langford's friends involved in this scheme are investment banker William Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre. The government said it was also seeking $7.6 million in forfeiture from the three men.
Blount’s company profited from collecting fees recommended by Langford in the sewer bond transactions.
One of the consequences from the Mayor's criminal activities is that Alabama’s Jefferson County — of which Birmingham is the main city — is fighting to stave off what would be the largest bankruptcy in U.S. municipal history over its sewer debt.
“He sold out his public office to his friends Blount and LaPierre for about $235,000 in expensive clothes, watches and cash to pay his growing personal debt. All the while, Blount was paid fees topping $7 million,” said US Attorney Alice Martin.
Ms. Martin continued, “Through a web of financing agreements Langford required many institutions to use Blount as a consultant so Blount would make fees and in turn pay off Langford. It was a classic pay-to-play scheme.”
In May the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit accusing Langford of receiving and not disclosing a $156,000 illegal payment.
Langford sat on Jefferson’s county commission from 2002 to 2006 and was its president. He became Birmingham mayor in 2006.
Do any villagers have any thoughts on this mayor-gone-bad? When will our public leaders recognize that they are not above the law?