Langford to be sentenced today

By Alan Collins

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford will learn his fate later today. A federal judge will sentence Langford for bribery and corruption.

Federal prosecutors have asked for a sentence between 24 and 30 years.

Thursday, ministers of various denominations signed a resolutions praising Langford's  accomplishments. The resolution will be given to Langford's attorney to present to U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler during sentencing on Friday morning. The group outside of Birmingham City Hall asked for prayer for Langford, his family, and they hope the judge will not give a harsh sentence.

"A man of great faith and tremendous compassion who not doubt is facing the darkest hour of his life," Rev. Franklin Tate said.

"Pray to the God of justice will take care of this, that's the main reason being here," Rev. Edgar Fisher said.

Langford was convicted last October on 60 felony charges of bribery and conspiracy that took place while he was president of the Jefferson County Commission. Prosecutors said Langford sent more than $7 million in county bond business to Bill Blount's investment banking firm.  Langford, in turn, received $235,000 in cash, jewelry and clothing from Blount via Alabama Democratic lobbyist Al LaPierre. 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 and Blount plead guilty last July to charges connected to the bribery scheme with Langford and testified for the prosecution during Langford's trial. They were each sentenced to prison last Friday: Blount was sentenced to four years, four months, and LaPierre was sentenced to four years.

Former U.S. Attorney Doug Jone said Langford is facing many years in federal prison because of sentencing guidelines. While the former mayor has admitted no guilt or accepted any responsibility, Jones says he will have a chance to ask for mercy.

"There is still an opportunity where a defendant can come into court, apologize for their action without necessarily admitting guilt," Jones said.

Thursday, Langford's attorney, Michael Rasmussen, filed his sentencing memorandum to counter the government's recommendations.

"Mr. Langford has been the subject of vilification and ridicule by the media and hatred by segments of the community," Rasmussen wrote. "Some this is based on conduct for which he was found guilty, but most appears to be a reaction to Jefferson County's financial crisis, which so many blame on Mr. Langford. The government does the same. That blame is unfair."

Langford's attorney is asking for a sentence similar to former Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount. Blount received four years and four months in prison during his sentencing last Friday.

"Balanced against who he is and what he has done all his life are what he did during part of during part of his life, the offenses of conviction," Rasmussen wrote. "Serious as they are, they are but a small part of the whole. They should not swallow up the whole, and they should not swallow up the remainder of his life as the government wants."

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