BRADENTON, Fla. — The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday refused to review the conviction of former Jefferson County, Ala., Commission President Larry Langford.
The high court took less than two months to deny Langford’s petition, which sought a review of the decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upholding his October 2009 conviction on charges largely stemming from the county’s failed sewer-system financing.
Langford’s attorney, Michael Rasmussen, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Jefferson County, the home of Birmingham, filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 9 after failing to reach a restructuring agreement on $3.14 billion of sewer warrants, which are in default. The county’s debt also includes $814.7 million of school warrants secured by a one-cent sales tax, $200.5 million of general obligation warrants, and $82.5 million of limited-obligation lease warrants.
At the time of his conviction, Langford was the mayor of Birmingham. He was stripped of the title the day he was found guilty on 61 federal counts of bribery, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, conspiracy and filing a false tax return.
Most of the charges relate to Jefferson County’s defaulted sewer warrants. Langford in 2002 and 2003 spearheaded refinancing the county’s fixed-rate sewer warrants into mostly variable- and auction-rate modes with associated swaps to delay huge rate hikes.
The refunding sewer debt collapsed in the 2008 market meltdown.
Langford, 65, began serving a 15-year sentence in Kentucky in April 2010. He is among nearly two dozen people who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to corruption related to the sewer system’s construction or financing.
The Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday is expected to pave the way for Langford to give a deposition in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s suit against two former JPMorgan bankers, Charles LeCroy and Douglas MacFaddin.
The SEC alleges that the bankers paid various people so JPMorgan could win work on the county’s financings.
The suit against the two bankers was filed around the same time that JPMorgan entered an agreement with the SEC in November 2009, which settled securities fraud and other charges involving the county’s troubled sewer warrants and related interest-rate swaps.
Jefferson County eventually received $75 million as part of JPMorgan’s settlement with the SEC. The bank also forfeited $647.8 million that it said it was owed in swap termination fees, though it did not admit or deny any of the SEC charges.