BRADENTON, Fla. — Lawyers for ousted Birmingham, Ala., Mayor Larry Langford say the former Jefferson County commissioner who spearheaded the ill-fated refinancing of the county’s $3.2 billion of sewer debt will appeal his conviction on 60 federal charges.
Langford, whose request for a new trial was denied last week, will appeal after he is sentenced March 5, said his attorneys, Glennon Threatt and Michael Rasmussen.
“An appeal cannot be filed until after sentencing, and must then be filed within 10 days,” Rasmussen said. “There will be an appeal.”
The appeal would be filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Langford last October was found guilty of 29 counts of bribery, four counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy, five counts of mail fraud, 18 counts of wire fraud, and three counts of filing false tax returns. Most of the charges were related to Jefferson County’s sewer bond deals.
For two years, the county has considered restructuring the troubled sewer debt, but that would require hard-to-come-by bond insurance or some kind of a financial guarantee to bring interest rates down to levels the sewer system could repay. Some commissioners are reluctant to restructure because they believe the underlying bond deals are tainted by political corruption and the county would fare better filing for bankruptcy protection from creditors.
Jefferson County’s sewer system has seen a number of contractors, county commissioners, and others who worked on the financings charged with various crimes since work began rebuilding the aging system after the county signed a consent order in 1996.
Some lawmakers have cited the situation in Jefferson County as they push for stiffer ethics regulations. Last Thursday, the Alabama House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, that would grant the state’s five-member Ethics Commission the power to subpoena witnesses or records when the panel investigates alleged ethics violations. The bill has been sent to the Senate. Lawmakers rejected similar proposals in the past.
Lawmakers also are considering a bill sponsored by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, that expands the definitions of lobbying and lobbyist and would make it mandatory for county commissioners, city councils, and mayors to undergo ethics training. Alabama’s Ethics Commission currently makes training available to lawmakers, state constitutional officers, cabinet officers, executive staff, and local public officials, though training is not mandatory for local public officials.