Four years in prison for Blount, LaPierre

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Former Alabama Democrat Party executive director Al LaPierre and Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount were sentenced to prison Friday for their role in a federal bribery case involving former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford.

Judge Scott Coogler issued the sentence Friday morning in federal court in Tuscaloosa, accepting most of the recommendations from prosecutors:

LaPierre sentence:
- 48 months in prison
- Three years of supervised released
- Restitution of $98,433 to the Internal Revenue Service
- Forfeiture of $371,932
- Prohibited from being a lobbyist or serving as a consultant to any government

Blount sentence:
- 52 months in prison
- Three years of supervised released
- Forfeiture of $1 million
- Shall not practice law without permission from the court
- May not have any business with a government agency as an advisor

Prosecutors had also asked for each to pay $5.5 million in restitution to Jefferson County.  However, Judge Coogler on Friday refused, saying that amount was better handled through lawsuits.

Coogler sentenced each man separately. During LaPierre's sentencing, he acknowledged LaPierre's cooperation with the government, but added, "If you participate in destroying the public's trust, you will go to prison."

LaPierre told the judge he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to his friends, family, supporters and the community.  
LaPierre and Blount plead guilty last July to charges connected to a bribery scheme with Langford. Their testimony helped prosecutors convict Langford on 60 felony charges last October. Prosecutors said LaPierre served as the middle man between Blount and Langford in a long-running bribery scheme that sent more than $7 million in county bond business to Blount's Montgomery investment banking firm.  Langford, in turn, received $235,000 in cash, jewelry and clothing. Prosecutors said most of the financial business Langford funneled to Blount involved bond and swap transactions related to Jefferson County's multi-billion dollar sewer debt.

LaPierre also pleaded guilty last July to conspiracy and filing false tax returns. He could have faced up to eight years in prison.

"We are pleased with the sentence imposed today," said acting U.S. Attorney Jim Phillips in a statement to FOX6 News. "Bill Blount and Al LaPierre bought a county commission president for cash, jewelry and clothing and continued the legacy of corruption in Jefferson County government."

Both LaPierre and Blount were ordered to report to prison May 27th. However, Judge Coogler did tell Blount he could request a 30 day extension beyond that date in order to secure the funding necessary to pay restitution.

Langford is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, March 5th.

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