Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Opening statements of the Langford federal corruption trial

Well, Monday was the day of jury selection for the trial in Tuscaloosa at its federal court building.  (The trial was moved to Tuscaloosa after Langford's defense team requested its change-of-venue from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa due it being so high-profile.  However, Tuscaloosa is STILL in the Birmingham television market, so his team aren't too bright because they know who he is just like those in Birmingham.)  

U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler, prosecutors and defense lawyers questioned a jury pool drawn from a 10-county area in western Alabama surrounding Tuscaloosa (3 white males, 8 white females, 1 black male, 3 black females).  By Monday afternoon, the final jury selection was made along with a list of potential high-profile witnesses that maybe called to the stand to testify during the trial.
Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins, Commissioner Shelia Smoot, and former county commissioners Gary White and Mary Buckelew.

Bill Blount and Al LaPierre, they were Langford's co-defendants, but have pleaded guilty and are expected to testify against Langford.

Charles Lecroy, Jefferson County's bond "idea guy" also surfaced, but was convicted in Philadelphia federal court on a pay-for-play scheme.
Terri Hatcher, Langford's longtime assistant while he was commissioner at Jefferson County.

Deborah Vance-Bowie, Langford's current chief-of-staff for his mayoral administration.

April Odom, an executive assistant of Langford in Birmingham City Hall.

Also word is that Alabama Power CEO and Langford's friend, Charles McCrary, is among those possible witnesses as well.

This morning the opening statements of Birmingham mayor Larry Langford's federal corruption and bribery trial began this morning.  Federal prosecutor George Martin describing Langford as "a wheeling, dealing politician" who was deceitful and enriched himself by taking bribes while as Jefferson County Commission President.  The prosecution didn't hold back as they have delineated Langford is the most negative light quite possibly considered with the intent of bribery and getting rich off taxpayers backs to the jury.  Prosecution painted the "clothes, watches, and other gifts were not loans." 

However, Langford's defense team was allowed by U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler to use a Birmingham News editorial cartoon as an exhibit. HUH? 

Langford's defense team describes this as "an attempt by (former defendant) Bill Blount to stabbed Langford in the back and schemed to entrap and manipulate Langford" and "he likes nice things and he was a big idea person who left details to others."  Langford's defense attorney Michael Rasmussen also exclaims that Langford is a "shopaholic" (I guess so considering he racked up nealy $236,000 worth of things).  Rasmussen said "Blount's guilty plea is not evidence of Langford's guilt".

However, federal prosecution pointed this out. Martin detailed several trips to New York City, where Langford would take Blount shopping.  Langford would pick out what he wanted and Blount would pay for it with his American Express card.  Also Martin described one instance where Blount purchased a $12,000 Rolex for Langford. 

Blount's former girlfriend was one of the two now-defunct Colonial Bank loan officers to testified about a $50,000 loan for Langford.  Yvette Campbell and Karyn Cope Hughes both were on the stand today discussing the details of the loan Blount issued to Langford.  Hughes was dating Blount at the time of the issuance of the loan.  Campbell said that lobbyist Al LaPierre later came in the branch to take out a $50,000 loan.  Hughes testified that she informed Campbell that the LaPierre would pay off Langford's loan with his loan.

Finally, Birmingham downtown clothier Remon Danforah testified this afternoon that Langford was a regular at his men's clothing store.   Danforah said the first time Langford visited Bill Blount and Al LaPierre were with him.  He informed the jury that Langford's bill got as high as $14,000 and finally pointed out that LaPierre and Blount paid off Langford bills for clothes and other items.  However, Rasmussen counterargued that Danforah "double billed" Langford. 

Current Birmingham Finance Director and former Jefferson County Finance Director Steve Saylers was on the stand before the trial wrapped today about the bond swaps.  However, Judge Coogler called it a day while Saylers was on the stand. 

If Langford is convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum of 804 years in prison and removal from helm as Birmingham mayor.

ALSO: Michael Rasmussen is a public appointed attorney after Langford said back in July that he couldn't afford his own defense council.  However, this is after Langford won nearly $55,000 in winnings at 2 different gambling facilities in Greene and Macon counties, Alabama.  This is a mess...

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