Defense calls witnesses in Larry Langford trial

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - On day 7 of the federal bribery trial of Larry Langford, the prosecution continued to call witnesses to attempt to prove Langford's money troubles before resting their case and letting the defense begin their arguments.

The first witness to take the stand on Tuesday was IRS Agent Joe Elliot. Elliot said he had reviewed Larry Langford's financial information for the trial. The IRS claims that Langford did not report $241,843. Langford's attorney, Mike Rasmussen, then pointed out that legitimate loans and gifts are not taxable. Elliot quickly replied that illegal gains are not tax exempt. This led to harsh questioning by Rasmussen that ended with the attorney questioning Elliot's estimate of Langford's alleged ill-gotten gains.

The final witnesses to take the stand for the prosecution were employees of Bromberg's Jewelry, including business owner Ricky Bromberg. These employees testified that in 2004, Langford had wanted to buy jewelry on credit, but was not allowed due to a large outstanding balance on his account. According to the store clerks, Bill Blount picked up the charges for Langford on several thousand dollars worth of jewelry. After this testimony, the prosecution rested.

The defense asked for summary judgment acquittal and for the wire fraud charge to be thrown out after the prosecution finished up. The judge denied all motions before calling for a break.

After the break, the defense called their first witness, Pastor Ocie Oden, Jr., of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Fairfield. Oden testified that Langford had given around 60 suits to the church, but Judge Coogler would not accept testimony on generosity as he said it does not pertain to the case. The judge stated that he would accept testimony on Langford being law-abiding.

The defense's next witness was Montgomery attorney Fred Simpler. Simpler testified that he drafted promissory notes for Bill Blount, but said he never talked to Langford about them nor did Langford ever interact with the note preparation. On cross examination, the prosecution submitted that the signed notes were different than the ones Simpler had drafted and that the copy Langford signed did not have the notary page. Attorney Mike Rasmussen put forth the idea that Blount could have modified the notes himself since he is an attorney.

Rick Fitzgerald, who used to work for Goldman Sachs and worked with Jefferson County, took the stand next. Fitzgerald testified that Goldman Sachs hired Bill Blount for the bond work and that Larry Langford never recommended Blount. He then read a letter to Jefferson County from Goldman Sachs that asked if the county understood that Blount would be paid. Fitzgerald added that attorney Bill Slaughter thought that the letter should just go to then-County Finance Director Steve Sayler. During cross examination, Fitzgerald said that Goldman Sachs had met with Langford before, but did not get business with Jefferson County until Bill Blount was added to the deal and that Blount was added to better the odds of getting work with the county.

On Monday, jurors heard testimony about Langford's financial problems as prosecutors detailed the money trail between him and co-defendants Bill Blount and Al LaPierre.

It was revealed Monday that the mayor, at one time, had a credit card debt of about $240,000. Langford's attorney, Glennon Threatt, said credit should have nothing to do with the trial.

"There are a lot of factors that determine whether or not you get credit," said Threatt. "The mayor is not accused of having a bad credit score. The mayor is accused of the crimes included in the indictment. What I'm trying to do as his lawyer is defend him against the charges, not explain to you or anyone else why some credit agency gave him the score that they gave him."

Threatt has not indicated whether or not Langford will take the stand in his own defense.