Langford: 'I don't agree with the verdict, but it's done'

Larry Langford speaks to reporters Wednesday afternoon after a jury convicted him of federal bribery and conspiracy (WBRC video)
Larry Langford speaks to reporters Wednesday afternoon after a jury convicted him of federal bribery and conspiracy (WBRC video)

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Larry Langford expressed disappointment and blamed race and the media for his conviction Wednesday afternoon after a jury convicted him on 60 charges of bribery and conspiracy.

Langford and his family and friends emerged from the federal courthouse in Tuscaloosa less than an hour after the jury returned its verdict, offering very candid comments about the verdict, the past and the future.

"I don't agree with the verdict, but it's done," Langford said.

Langford was found guilty on all 60 counts against him, ranging from bribery to money laundering which occurred during his tenure as president of the Jefferson County Commission. Prosecutors convinced the jury Langford took bribes of about $236,000 in exchange for sending county business to the Montgomery firm of investment banker Bill Blount. In return, Blount sent cash and gifts to Langford through Democrat lobbyist Al LaPierre.

Blount and LaPierre both plead guilty earlier this year to charges related in the case. Langford said he understood why Blount and LaPierre plead guilty before the trial.

"When the whole U.S. government is coming after you, some people just do what they do," Langford said. "We are praying for them."

As the verdict was read, Langford said he was "remarkably calm."

"I didn't think I would be," Langford said.

Langford said he was disappointed in the verdict and would appeal.

"The jury has spoken. What can I say?"

Langford said racism and biased media coverage led to his conviction.

"This didn't happen just three years ago," Langford said. "The federal goverment has been antagonizing us since 1981."

Langford's wife, Melva, was more blunt.

"A black man cannot get a fair trial," Melva Langford said. "They have been working hard to conspire to hurt him for many years.

Melva Langford said there should be a public investigation of the Justice Department.

"I'm tired of my family being put into a position where i have to defend my family from doing something wrong," she said.

Langford continued to defend his innocence and promised an appeal.

"This is the first time in my career I've been charged with anything," Langford said. "I'm not the first person to go on trial for something I didn't do."

Langford also said the evidence didn't add up.

"If I was guilty of what they said, and Bill Blount made $7 million, I guarantee you I would have had $3.5 million of it," Langford said. "You cannot profess religion on Monday and not practice on Tuesday."

Langford's conviction means Langford was immedately removed from office as mayor of Birmingham.  By law, Birmingham City Council President Carole Smitherman will take his place until a special election can be held within three months.

Langford said it was his pleasure to serve as mayor of Birmingham.

"The citizens of Birmingham has been fantastic to me," Langford said. "I don't think that's going to change."