FEDERAL JUDGE SENTENCES INVESTMENT BANKER BILL BLOUNT AND LOBBYIST AL LAPIERRE FOR BRIBING FORMER BIRMINGHAM MAYOR WHILE HE WAS JEFFERSON COUNTY COMMISSION PRESIDENT
TUSCALOOSA – A federal judge today sentenced investment banker BILL BLOUNT to four years, four months in prison and lobbyist AL LAPIERRE to four years in prison for their roles in bribing former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford while he was president of the Jefferson County Commission, Acting U.S. Attorney Jim Phillips, FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley and IRS Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigations, Reginael D. McDaniel announced.
In addition to the prison time, U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler ordered BLOUNT, 56, to forfeit $1 million to the government as proceeds of illegal activity. Judge Coogler also ordered BLOUNT to serve three years supervised release after completing his prison term and said he shall not practice law without permission from the court and may not have any business with a government agency as an advisor.
Judge Coogler ordered LAPIERRE, 59, to forfeit $371,932 and to pay $98,433 in back taxes to the IRS. The judge ordered LAPIERRE to serve three years supervised release after completing his prison term and prohibited him from being a lobbyist or serving as a consultant to any government.
The judge ordered both BLOUNT and LAPIERRE to report to prison May 27.
“We are pleased with the sentence imposed today,” Phillips said. “BILL BLOUNT and AL LAPIERRE bought a county commission president for cash, jewelry and clothing and continued the legacy of corruption in Jefferson County government,” he said.
LAPIERRE served as the middle man between BLOUNT and Langford in a long-running bribery scheme that sent more than $7 million in county bond business to BLOUNT’S Montgomery investment banking firm in exchange for $235,000 in cash, jewelry and clothing to Langford. Most of the financial business Langford funneled BLOUNT’S way involved bond and swap transactions related to Jefferson County’s multi-billion dollar sewer debt.
Both BLOUNT and LAPIERRE pleaded guilty earlier this year and testified for the government in Langford’s October trial. A federal jury convicted Langford on 60 counts following a two-week trial. Langford is scheduled for sentencing March 5.
BLOUNT pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery and agreed to forfeit $1 million.
LAPIERRE pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring with BLOUNT and Langford to commit fraud and bribery and to one count of filing a false tax return. He agreed to forfeit $371,932.
BLOUNT and LAPIERRE gave money to, paid off loans and bought expensive clothing and jewelry for Langford between 2002 and 2007, while he was Jefferson County Commission president. The money, clothing and jewelry were intended to influence Langford to include BLOUNT and his company, Blount Parrish, in lucrative Jefferson County financial transactions. Langford solicited and accepted the items, totaling about $235,000, intending to be influenced and rewarded. Langford did use his power and influence to include Blount Parrish in county financial transactions and, thereby, generated fees for BLOUNT and LAPIERRE.
"This case demonstrates that the appearance of success can be a mask for a tangled financial web of lies,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge McDaniel. “Financial crimes can thrive for a time, but eventually those responsible get caught and face judgment," he said.
“The message with today’s sentencing continues to be clear: there is no acceptable level of corruption,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Maley. “Bribe a public official, go to jail.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys George Martin, Tamarra Matthews-Johnson, Scarlett Singleton and Lloyd Peeples prosecuted the government’s case.
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