After closing arguments Wednesday morning, U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler gave the case to the jury. On his way to lunch Langford said he trusted in God's protection to get him through the verdict. "I woke up feeling better this morning than I did in two weeks," Langford said. "You know why? Even God can overcome the U.S. government."
The verdict came fast, as jurors apparently had no doubt or hesitancy of Langford's guilt. Shortly before 4:30, Coogler brought the jury into the courtroom. The court clerk read the verdict one count at a time. Coogler polled the jurors, each of whom affirmed the verdict.
Prosecutors had accused Langford of accepting more than $235,000 worth of cash, jewelry and expensive clothes in exchange for directing more than $7.1 million worth of bond business to his friend, Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount. Langford was found guilty of bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns.
Jurors heard testimony from two of Langford's confederates, Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre, both of whom pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government. Each testified that, while they never had an explicit agreement with Langford, all three men shared an understanding and Langford never expressed confusion about his role in the conspiracy.
After a short break, Judge Coogler announced that the prosecution and defense had agreed to a stipulation regarding forfeiture. Langford will forfeit $241,000 gained as a result of his crimes. Coogler thanked the jury for their service and sent them home. Coogler also informed Langford that, as he is a convicted felon, he would need to give up any guns in his possession and surrender his passport.
Outside the courthouse, Langford gave a wide-ranging press conference with attorney Glennon Threatt standing to his right and his wife, Melva, on his left.
"We all have trials in our life," Langford said. "I don't agree with the verdict but it's done." Langford maintained that he is innocent, and plans to appeal. "I'm not the only person who has gone on trial for something that they didn't do. But if you expect to see me crying with my head dropped, you've picked the wrong one," he said.
Langford still took issue with prosecutors' argument that he traded the public trust so cheaply.
"If I was guilty of what they said and Bill Blount made $7 million, you can bet your ass I would have had three and a half of it," Langford said.
Flanked by a number of supporters, Langford seemed totally unfazed by the possibility that he could be sentenced to several centuries worth of jail time.
"805 years? That means if I live to be 80, I have to die and come back 10 more times," Langford said. He then turned and asked Threatt, "You gonna hang around to defend me?"
"I'll be there, Mayor," Threatt replied.
Langford seemed a bit testy at times, railing against the media. After NBC 13 reporter Jon Paepcke asked a question about the verdict's effect on Birmingham's bid for the 2020 Olympics, Langford pointed to Paepcke and said "You are a snake." He also thanked Birmingham News columnist John Archibald for being fair to him.
Smitherman, Birmingham's new mayor, will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. tomorrow at city hall.
Langford's wife, Melva, accused the Justice Department of targeting black politicians.
"Only in Alabama a black man cannot be fair tried," Melva Langford said. "That's been for eons. And when you have a whole organization like the Justice Department — they have been conspiring and working hard to hurt my husband over the years."
Assistant United States Attorney George Martin said the accusation was ridiculous.
"We prosecuted this case because he took bribes and he committed fraud," Martin said.
In a best of times, worst of times moment, Martin reflected on the the dual nature of Langford's conviction.
"This is a good day for Jefferson County because a corrupt politician was convicted," Martin said. "It is also a sad day for Jefferson County because a corrupt politician was convicted."
Kyle Whitmire contributed to this report.