Bill Blount, a Montgomery investment banker and co-defendant of Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, pleaded guilty (PDF) Tuesday to charges that he participated in a bribery scheme with Langford and lobbyist Al LaPierre. Blount also admitted that he bribed former Jefferson County Commissioner Mary Buckelew.
According to the plea agreement, prosecutors will ask that Blount serve a 52 month sentence and pay $1 million in fines.
Blount appeared before U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Tuscaloosa.
The proceeding was brief and formal, not varying much from most plea hearings, except for one moment when Blount had to tell Judge Coogler how to pronounce "Tourneau," the watch retailer where Blount spent more than $12,000 on one purchase for Langford.
Last year, a federal grand jury indicted Blount, LaPierre and Langford on charges of public corruption. Prosecutors have accused Blount of paying bribes to Langford, using LaPierre as a middle man. The bribes consisted of clothes, jewelry and cash, according to the 101 count indictment unsealed last December. In exchange, Langford included Blount's firm in lucrative bond deals. Those derivative contracts, called interest rate swaps, have backfired on the county, leaving it on the precipice of bankruptcy.
Last month, LaPierre agreed to plead guilty to one count of cospiracy and one count of tax fraud. LaPierre will recieve no more than four years in prison and have to pay back $372,000 plus fines. In exchange, LaPierre has agreed to testify that he, Langford and Blount forged documents showing the payments to Langford were loans and not bribes.