Witnesses: Banker at center of case aided Langford

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Opening testimony in the federal corruption trial of Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford centered around alleged bribes and favors from a banker at the center of the case.

The one-time top loan officer with Colonial Bank, Karyn Cope Hughes, testified Tuesday in Tuscaloosa that Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount contacted her seeking loans for Langford.

Another witness said Blount joined lobbyist Al LaPierre in paying thousands of dollars in clothing bills for Langford at an upscale men's store. Both Blount and LaPierre have pleaded guilty to bribing Langford and will testify.

Prosecutors claim Langford took more than $230,000 from Blount and sent Jefferson County bond business his way. The defense says Langford was betrayed by friends and didn't consider their gifts to be bribes.

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