Blount arrives at Langford trial

Bill Blount arrives at the Tuscaloosa federal courthouse on Wednesday for Langford's trial (WBRC video)
Bill Blount arrives at the Tuscaloosa federal courthouse on Wednesday for Langford's trial (WBRC video)

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Bill Blount, one of the other two men charged in the Larry Langford federal corruption case, arrived at the courthouse Wednesday to prepare to testify in the case.

The Montgomery businessman arrived in a dark-colored SUV and quickly entered the front of the Tuscaloosa federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

Blount and Democrat lobbysist Al LaPierre were charged last year with Langford in connection with a federal bribery scheme. Langford is accused of accepting more than $260,000 in bribes to steer Jefferson County business to Blount, filtered through LaPierre. Blount and LaPierre both plead guilty earlier this year to charges in the case in exchange for cooperation with prosecutors.

Earlier in the day, Former Jefferson County Finance Director Steve Sayler testified about bond work assigned to Blount's financial firm at the request of then County Commission President Larry Langford. Sayler testified Langford and the commission traveled to New York prior to those deals. Prosecutors believe Langford received lavish gifts and cash from Blount.

During cross-examination, Langford defense attorney Mike Rasmussen questioned Sayler on sewer bond rates and what would have happened if Langford had not done anything.  Sayler also told the court that fees on the bond deals did not come out of county funds.

Langford's secretary, Terri Hatcher, then testified, answering questions about Langford's travel schedule.

The next witness called was James Lister, a financial analyst of Lehman Brothers, who testified about his conversations with Blount about Jefferson County's finances.  Lister said he talked to Blount because, "he believed Blount had a relationship with Jefferson County." Lister said Blount told him Langford "controlled three votes on the county commission" and suggested Lister should visit Birmingham to see the Jefferson County folks.

Robert Taylor of Lehman Brothers testified next.  Taylor said he engineered the interest rate swaps with Jefferson County. Taylor said he came to Birmingham to meet with Langford, but said Langford became "frustrated" with him.  Taylor said Langford said, "I sent you my guy and you didn't wanna work with him. Why are we talking?" Taylor said they couldn't because of disclosure. Taylor said he met with Sayler a week later and in October of that year they did a deal, which included $35,000 in payments to Blount.

Next on the stand was Paolo Farina from Salvatore Ferragamo clothiers of New York City. Farina confirmed receipts for purchases for Langford and former Jefferson County Commissioner Mary Buckelew, including a $2,000 leather jacket and two pair of shoes for Langford.  Farina said the purchases were sent to the commissioners at their Jefferson County courthouse office and were paid for by Blount.