BRADENTON, Fla. — A federal judge in Alabama Friday sentenced Montgomery bond dealer Bill Blount to four years and four months in prison and lobbyist Al LaPierre to four years in prison for their pay-to-play roles in the refinancing of Jefferson County’s $3.2 billion of now-failed sewer warrants.
Prosecutors said both men participated in a bribery conspiracy with former County Commission president Larry Langford that spanned six years.
Both men report to prison May 27 and will spend three years on probation after their release.
Blount, 56, could have received 23 years for his conviction on conspiracy and bribery charges, while LaPierre, 59, could have served eight years for his conviction on conspiracy and filing a false tax return.
U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler also ordered Blount to forfeit $1 million and prohibited him from having any future securities-related or advisory business with a government. After Blount serves out his sentence, he will have to get the court’s permission before he can practice law again.
LaPierre was ordered to forfeit $371,932 and pay $98,433 in back federal taxes. He was prohibited from being a lobbyist or serving as a consultant to any government.
The lower sentences were the result of plea agreements in which numerous charges against both men were dropped.
Both men were required to testify against Langford, who oversaw Jefferson County’s faulty sewer refinancings in 2003 and 2004 and who also benefitted from bribes, gifts, and loans worth at least $235,000.
Prosecutors initially recommended that Blount and LaPierre each pay $5.5 million as restitution and in court documents explained that the victims were Jefferson County sewer ratepayers, and the county itself, which is saddled with debt it cannot repay.
They cited “side letters” from JPMorgan and Bear, Stearns & Co. that were sent to Langford showing that in five swap transactions, Blount and his firm, Blount Parrish & Co., and other Alabama firms received $8 million in fees that “were incorporated into the pricing of the transactions and thereby passed on to Jefferson County.”
In court Friday, however, prosecutors withdrew their request for restitution and said the amount ultimately should be determined by a civil court. Coogler agreed.
Langford refused to cut a deal with prosecutors and insisted he did nothing wrong.
Following a two-week trial last October, a jury found him guilty on 60 federal charges.
Langford, who most recently had been the mayor of Birmingham, was ousted from the mayor’s office upon his conviction.
Langford’s sentencing is scheduled for Friday.
“We are pleased with the sentence imposed” by Coogler, a statement from acting U.S. attorney Jim 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.