Larry Langford is a flawed-but-good-hearted public servant who let two people he thought were his friends dupe him into steering them millions in fees on county bond business.
Those were the stories a federal jury in Tuscaloosa heard Tuesday morning from federal prosecutors and Langford's defense lawyer, respectively.
"This is a case about a wheeling and dealing politician who sold out the public trust," Assistant United States Attorney George Martin said.
Martin described how Blount and LaPierre had plied Langford with expensive gifts, including Rolex watches, suits and a cardigan sweater worth $1,100. Also, the two paid Langford's debts for things including store credit and stereo equipment. All told, the two paid Langford more than $230,000 in money and gifts, prosecutors say, and Langford returned the favors by demanding investment banks include Blount in enormous bond deals, putting at least $7 million into the pocket of Blount's firm.
Defense lawyer Michael Rasmussen admitted that Langford had flaws. In particular, he said Langford was terrible with money and accumulated debt. Also, he said Langford was bad at following through on his big ideas and often left others to tend to the details.
Blount set out very early to exploit these faults, Rasmussen said.
"Larry's a shopoholic. Blount knows this," Rasmussen said.
Langford was trying to get Jefferson County sewer rates under control. The only man he knew who he thought was qualified and worth his trust was Blount, Rasmussen said. But that trust was misplaced.
According to Rasmussen, the proportion of the money Blount made compared to the amount of the gifts and money given to Langford shows there was no bribery conspiracy. Blount got the better end of the deal because he screwed Langford, and now Blount is trying to save himself by giving the government Langford.
"There you have it — a stab in the back and a deal with the devil," Rasmussen said.