Blount: "I bribed Larry Langford"

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Montgomery businessman Bill Blount testified Thursday he bribed Larry Langford with cash, clothes and gifts in exchange for county business.

In testimony Thursday afternoon, Blount explained in detail how the bribery worked between him, Langford and Democrat lobbyist Al LaPierre.

"I bribed Larry Langford by providing cash through LaPierre and gifts like clothes," Blount said. "I wanted to keep Larry Langford happy, avoid scandal, and make sure Blount Parrish (Blount's company) was in on as many deals as possible."

All three men were charged in December 2008 with multiple counts of bribery and corruption. Prosecutors said Langford, who at the time was President of the Jefferson County Commission, arranged county business deals through Blount's business firm in exchange for cash and gifts, which was funneled through LaPierre.

Earlier this year, LaPierre and Blount plead guilty to charges in their cases in exchange for cooperation with prosecutors.

Thursday, Blount said he bribed Langford, "by providing cash through LaPierre and gifts like clothes." Blount said he helped Langford because, "he had to pay his income tax."

Blount said he arranged for Langford to get a loan at Colonial Bank to pay off clothing expenses. "I think we had some conversations about it because he had already been turned down at a couple other banks," Blount testified.

Blount explained how he gave LaPierre money in the form of a check to give to Langford.  "I gave money to LaPierre and called it loan on check in case it ever came to light," Blount said. Blount also said that Langford never asked for money, but said he gave Langford money to keep him happy.

Blount says he paid LaPierre $50,000 to pay off the loan after Langford said that he could not pay it off. Blount said LaPierre was to give Langford the money because, "I couldn't do it directly since I worked with county."  Blount also said he dummied up fake promissory notes, gave them to LaPierre who took them to Langford, who then signed them to make these look like loans, not bribes.

Blount also said the deals allowed Al LaPierre to get paid every time Blount's company, Blount Parrish, would close on a Jefferson County deal.

During cross-examination, Langford's attorney, Mike Rasmussen, questioned Blount about his connections with rating agencies and county politicians and how these people like to spend money or enjoyed their political or business power.

Earlier on Thursday, the court heard about several of the costly purchases made from expensive New York clothing stores. Paul Collins from Turnbull & Asser and Michael Dweck from Century 21 both testified about several expensive items that were sent to Langford. Also, Ron Headley from UPS of Birmingham took the stand and showed the court tracking slips from some of the purchases. Headley clarified that the items could not have been sent from a UPS store when asked by the defense if someone could have sent them from somewhere else.