ATLANTA, GA (WBRC) – Former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford has been given his chance to appeal his bribery and fraud conviction.
At trial, the case was mainly about whether Langford took bribes from his buddies while he was the President of the Jefferson County Commission in exchange for millions in county business. On Tuesday, Langford's attorney focused a lot of his 15 minutes of arguments on gambling, and in particular, casino boss Milton McGregor.
Langford Attorney Mike Rasmussen told the 3-judge panel that Langford's tax returns showing he won tens of thousands of dollars from Mississippi casinos over a 3-year period should never have been allowed in or should at least have been redacted to remove the mention of gambling winnings. He says that prejudiced the jury against Langford.
When Rasmussen told the judges how much Langford had won, a little over $100,000; Judge Anderson said "that doesn't sound like a lot." Rasmussen says it is not just the dollar figure that mattered to the jury at a time where bingo casinos were a hot-button issue in the state.
"I'm saying the gambling evidence was prejudicial to Mr. Langford," said Rasmussen. "Not just the amount, but because he gambled and people drew an inference that there was something wrong with him."
Rasmussen also said the mention of Milton McGregor and his attempts to help Langford get a loan prejudiced the jury against him. The judges seemed skeptical and prosecutors said McGregor's name was only mentioned once or twice and was not an attempt to tie Langford to gambling.
The judges spent most of their time with prosecutors asking just how solid the government's proof is that Langford knew Bill Blount's company was getting money from county bond deals at the time.
Prosecutors refused our request for comment afterwards.
The 3-judge panel will now review the arguments and will issue an opinion in a matter of weeks or even months.
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