MARCH 08, 2010
The once-powerful Alabama politician who blamed his recent corruption conviction on racism and vindictive prosecutors will spend 15 years in jail for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.
A heavyweight in the local Democratic Party, disgraced Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford was convicted by a federal jury last fall of 60 corruption charges, including bribery, conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. The influential lawmaker orchestrated a massive pay-to-play scheme in which he traded hefty bribes for coveted public contracts and county sewer bond deals worth millions of dollars.
In return the veteran lawmaker, a powerful fixture in local politics for more than three decades, took at least a quarter of a million dollars in cash and other gifts, including jewelry (among the pieces a Rolex watch) and fancy Italian suits. Throughout his federal trial, Langford asserted that he was a victim of racism and malicious prosecutors even though an investment banker and a lobbyist pleaded guilty to bribing him and both offered damaging testimony in court.
The dethroned politician stuck to his martyr script, actually claiming that authorities treated him worst than a famous child-molesting serial killer (Jeffrey Dahmer) who murdered 17 men and boys before getting caught in 1991. Langford’s beloved wife alleged racism, claiming that “only in Alabama can a black man not get a fair trial.”
The theatrics and desperate accusations were ineffective in the end. After a lively eight-day trial, a federal jury took less than two hours to convict the unscrupulous mayor of Alabama’s largest city. At his sentencing last week, Langford displayed no remorse but did say he was “sorry all this occurred.”
So are the citizens of Birmingham who are left with the exorbitant tab left by the mayor’s corrupt administration. A local political columnist points out that Birmingham residents must now pay an additional tax (known as the Larry Langford Memorial Tax) just to survive a whopping $77 million budget deficit racked up during his tenure.
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