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Birmingham mayor convicted on bribery charges

[JURIST] A federal jury on Wednesday convicted Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Larry Langford [official profile] on multiple bribery charges. Langford was accused [indictment, PDF] of directing $7.1 million in bond business to a friend in exchange for money and luxury goods [Bloomberg report] while serving as president of the Jefferson County Commission [official website]. Following six days of testimony, the jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning guilty verdicts on all 60 counts. Langford accused the Department of Justice of racial bias and criticized the media's handling of the case, and announced his intention to appeal.

In response to allegations that Langford was unfairly targeted due to his race, Assistant US Attorney George Martin said, "[w]e prosecuted this case because he took bribes and he committed fraud."

Langford’s conviction triggered his automatic removal [AP report] as mayor. City Council President Carole Smitherman [official profile] will succeed him on an interim basis. Langford faces a sentence of more than 500 years if he receives the statutory maximums.

Langford was elected mayor of Birmingham in 2007. In August, he was praised for pardoning [JURIST report] 2,500 people arrested in the city during nonviolent civil rights protests in the 1960s.

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