Birmingham Mayor and Friends Indicted http://www.privateofficer.com
Over an almost five-year period, Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford “corruptly solicited, accepted and agreed to accept money, cash and checks” totaling nearly $250,000 in return for funneling millions of county taxpayer dollars to two political allies, prosecutors allege in a 101-count federal indictment unsealed today. The indictment charges Langford, along with friends Bill Blount and Al LaPierre, with conspiracy, bribery, fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns.
The charges stem from a long-running federal investigation surrounding bond deals that were at the center of Jefferson County’s upgrade of its sewer system, deals that have left the county billions of dollars in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy.
Langford was arrested this morning by the FBI and, in a late morning appearance in federal court, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. After his appearance, Langford was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond. LaPierre also pleaded not guilty today and was released on a $50,000 bond. Blount is to appear this afternoon.
The indictment also alleges that, in November 2004, while on another trip to New York, Blount paid just more than $12,000 for a watch for Langford and just a month later shelled out $11,750 to Bromberg’s in Birmingham for a Rolex watch and other jewelry for Langford.
Federal prosecutors allege in the indictment that the money from Blount and LaPierre to Langford didn’t go just for fancy duds. They also allege that, on Aug. 11, 2004, Blount wrote a $30,000 check to LaPierre, who the next day cut a check for the same amount to Langford, who a few days later obtained an official check from Compass Bank in the amount of $29,241 to pay his personal taxes.
In other dealings alleged in the indictment, Blount transferred $69,000 to LaPierre, who then wrote a check to Langford for that same amount. Langford then deposited that amount into his bank account and used it to buy, among other items, $12,000 in audio equipment and $12,000 more for more clothes, the indictment says.
The indictment charges that Blount and his company were paid more than $7 million between 2002 and 2007.
Blount, 55, and LaPierre, 58, have long been considered among the best politically connected players in the state.
Langford is named in 60 of the 101 counts of the indictment, with Blount named in 43 and LaPierre in 22. Each man, if convicted, could face long prison terms.
The maximum sentence for each bribery and money laundering count is 10 years in prison; each fraud count, 20 years; each conspiracy count, five years; and each tax count, three years.
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Birmingham Alabama Mayor Arrested By FBI http://www.privateofficer.com
See documents and past stories from the investigation of Langford.
A special grand jury for several months has been investigating county bond deals and Langford’s financial dealings. Langford was Jefferson County Commission president 2002-06.
Al LaPierre, a close friend of Langford’s who also was part of the federal investigation, will be surrendering today, said his attorney, Tommy Spina.
David McKnight, Montgomery banker Bill Blount’s attorney, said Blount is on his way to Birmingham from Montgomery to surrender.
The Langford, LaPierre and Blount indictments are under seal, so details of the charges are not available.
Langford, LaPierre and Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount are accused in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit of not disclosing $156,000 in payments to Langford. The SEC has accused Blount of paying Langford through LaPierre as part of a plan to secure Jefferson County financial business when Langford was Jefferson County Commission president.
The SEC lawsuit against Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford fails to show how friends’ personal payments to Langford led to $6.7 million in government business, their lawyers said in a filing seeking dismissal of the suit this summer.
Former Jefferson County Commissioner John Katopodis was indicted in October on fraud charges stemming from his involvement with Computer Help for Kids, a charity established by Langford when Langford was mayor of Fairfield. Katapodis was arraigned on those charges in mid-November.
This statement was released from the mayor’s chief of staff, Deborah Vance-Bowie.:
“As you know, the Mayor was detained this morning by federal authorities. We do not know the details of his detention at this time. City business will go on as usual as we are all here to do a job and we’ll continue to do our jobs to ensure we deliver the best services to the taxpayers of Birmingham. This is certainly no surprise to us — we anticipated something happening soon especially knowing Alice Martin’s days in office are numbered with the swearing in of a new president in late January — just a little over a month from now. We are glad the mayor will finally have his day in court. As members of his team, we stand behind him and look forward to the day when we can return the focus to the important issues before the city.”
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MASCOTTE Fla. Nov. 6 2007- Allegations against Mayor Jeff Krull, who was arrested on Monday night on sex charges, came to light during an investigation of a gun theft from Krull’s house, police Chief Steve Allen said this morning.Krull is accused of molesting two girls and one boy, ranging in age from 13 to 16, according to Allen. The charges relate to touching and rubbing of children who visited his home, according to Allen.Krull was close to many city employees including Allen.
I was very sad and disappointed,” Allen, who arrested Krull before a City Council meeting, said at a news conference at the police department. “It was the saddest day of my job.” He said he had no choice but to arrest Krull, and that if he could prevent one child from being molested it was worth it.Police in the southwest Lake County city arrested Krull on eve of today’s city elections and Krull’s bid for a second term as mayor.
Krull, 66, was charged with six counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and one count of showing lewd and lascivious material to a minor. Allen would not say who reported the allegations against Krull except that it was not the victims or their parents. A computer taken from Krull’s home will be searched for child pornography, Allen added.
Meanwhile, Krull was taken to South Lake Hospital on Monday night with chest pain.Krull’s longtime girlfriend and Mascotte council member-elect Barbara Tillman said she and Krull drove to the city building on Sunset Avenue just before 6:30 p.m. Monday. Tillman said Krull got out of the vehicle and spoke with Allen before the arrest. Officers then took Krull to the city police station. He was expected to be booked at the Lake County Jail after his release from the hospital.”I know Jeff would not do anything to hurt a child,” Tillman said.City Manager Marge Strausbaugh said she informed other City Council members about Krull’s arrest just before their meeting.Allen said the arrest occurred Monday night because the investigation had come together at that point.
He chose to arrest Krull in a public place because the mayor has weapons at his home and Allen didn’t want Krull to harm himself, police or the public.Krull is running for re-election today against Felix Ramirez, who is leaving City Council Seat 1 to challenge him for mayor. Tillman, who previously served on the council next to Krull, filed election papers to run for Seat 1 and is not challenged by any other candidates.Ramirez also is father-in-law to fellow council member Stephen Elmore, who will run for re-election to Seat 5 against Louise Thompson — one of Krull’s neighbors in a neighborhood off South Bay Lake Road.His biography on the city’s Web site also says he volunteered as a reading tutor and an assistant CPR instructor for the American Red Cross. He was a volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America and Habitat for Humanity. And he has four adult children and six grandchildren.Krull and Tillman have lived in Mascotte for about six years.They often have neighborhood children around their house, where Tillman said Monday they sometimes used the computer to download programs from the Internet. Publicly, Krull has been a colorful member of the City Council.He proudly wore a badge on his belt that identified him as the mayor.
He drove around the 4,000-resident community with a sign on his car that also identified him as mayor.
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