Langford faces 800 years in prison

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - A jury has convicted Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford on federal charges of accepting bribes, automatically removing him from office.

He was convicted Wednesday of all the counts he faced for accepting cash and luxury items worth about $236,000 while serving as president of the Jefferson County Commission. In exchange, he funneled $7.1 million in bond business to a prominent investment banker.

Langford showed no emotion when the verdict was read.

With the felony conviction, he was automatically removed from the office that he won in a landslide in 2007.

Some of the bond deals made during Langford's term went sour in the credit crunch last year, and Jefferson County is now trying to avoid filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history over $3.9 billion in sewer bond debt.

Prosecutors say Langford is a wheeling, dealing politician who sold out the public for bribes that included thousands of dollars in cash, luxury clothes and expensive jewelry.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tamarra Matthews Johnson and George Martin depicted Langford as a corrupt liar during closing arugments in his federal bribery trial Wednesday. They urged jurors to convict on multiple counts including bribery and conspiracy.

But defense attorney Mike Rasmussen told jurors Langford is a compulsive shopper who gives things away constantly.

Because Langford is so generous and gives without expectation, Rasmussen said, he didn't feel obligated by taking money and gifts from a Montgomery investment banker.

Jurors are set to begin deliberations in Langford's trial after receiving final instructions from the judge.

Langford is out of jail pending sentencing. He faces a maximum of more than 800 years in prison for the convictions. His attorney says he will appeal the verdict.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)