TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham mayor Larry Langford was convicted Wednesday afternoon on federal corruption charges, immediately removing him from office.
The jury returned its verdict less than three hours after beginning deliberations, finding Langford guilty on all 60 counts against him, ranging from bribery to money laundering during his tenure as president of the Jefferson County Commission.
The judge said Langford would be sentenced within 90 to 100 days, meaning Langford would be allowed to stay out of prison until after sentencing.
FOX6 News reporter Ashley Nix was in the courtroom as the verdict was read. Nix said Langford sat quietly in disbelief as the jury returned the verdict. Langford had said Tuesday afternoon he was confident in his chances of winning the case.
The conviction means Langford is immediately removed from office as mayor of Birmingham, replaced by Birmingham City Council President Carole Smitherman, and could spend many years in prison.
Both the prosecution and the defense made their case to the jury during closing arguments Wednesday morning. The prosecution went over their evidence saying they proved Langford took bribes of about $236,000 in exchange for sending county business to the Montgomery firm of investment banker Bill Blount. The defense told the jury Blount and Democrat lobbyist Al LaPierre took advantge of Langford and that the mayor did not consider any of the gifts to be bribes.
Langford's conviction as mayor of Birmingham means Langford is immedately removed from office and Smitherman takes his place immediately. The Mayor Council Act then requires the Council to call a special election within five days of Langford's vacancy from the office. The election must be held within 90 days of that period.
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."
With a new council taking office during this time period, it is not clear what would happen in the Council President election. Some believe Smitherman would not be eligible because she would be interim mayor. Some say the new Council President would then replace Smitherman as Interim Mayor.
This is expected to be a legal issue if the mayor does get a guilty verdict from the jury.
Here is what the law states: