investment banker Bill Blount, 55, faces a 101-count federal indictment that includes charges of bribery, conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and filing false tax returns. The charges stem from bond deals made from 2002-2005, when Langford served as President of the Jefferson County Commission.
Read the indictment and a run-down of the charges against Langford and friends here.
"As an elected official of this county, Langford owed a duty of loyalty to this county and its citizens to refrain from using his public position or office to obtain personal benefit to himself," US Attorney Alice Martin stated at a press conference on Monday morning (video from CBS 42 here). "He was to have this county's best interest superior to all of his personal interests. Instead, our investigation revealed and the indictment alleges that Langford sold his public office to his friends and political supporters."
The Justice Department's indictment, which was unsealed this morning, alleges that while Langford was Commission President, he accepted $235,000 in gifts and cash in exchange for giving county sewer bond business to Blount's firm, Blount, Parrish, & Co. According the indictment, LaPierre served as a conduit for Blount's bribes, which netted Blount's firm more than $7 million in fees.
LaPierre, accompanied by attorney Tommy Spina, surrendered at the federal courthouse early Monday morning after hearing of Langford's arrest. LaPierre, 58, and Langford were arraigned together at about 10 a.m. The two appeared in the third floor courtroom in leg chains and their street clothes. After entering a plea of not guilty, Langford and LaPierre were released on $50,000 bonds.
Blount, who lives in Montgomery, surrendered and was arraigned on Monday afternoon. He also plead not guilty, and was released on a $100,000 bond. Blount is represented by attorney David McKnight.
LaPierre and Langford were nearly silent throughout Monday's proceedings, which were presided over by United States Magistrate Judge John E. Ott. Langford waived a reading of the 80-page indictment, and LaPierre's attorney followed suit. The defendants answered "Yes, sir," when asked by Ott if they understood their rights and the charges against them, and "No, sir," when asked if they had any questions.'a0 Judge Ott instructed both defendants to surrender any weapons or passports, requested that Langford and LaPierre not leave the Northern District of Alabama without permission from the court, and indicated that US District Judge L. Scott Coogler will serve as trial judge.
After the short court appearance, Langford stood by while his attorney, Tom Baddley, addressed the press gathered on the courthouse steps. (Birmingham Weekly has video of Baddley's statement, which we hope to have online soon.)