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Larry Langford administered his last rites, family member says

By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times

Larry Langford, former Birmingham mayor and Jefferson County Commissioner, was administered his last rites by a priest Wednesday, a family member said.

Langford, 70, who also served as mayor of Fairfield, had been hospitalized at a federal prison medical center in Lexington, Kentucky where he was serving a 15-year sentence. His family and friends were gathered around his bedside.

The former mayor, who said in 2013, that he was dying, had suffered from a history of illnesses that included end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema, pulmonary hypertension, right heart failure, sickle-cell trait and anemia.

Supporters gathered late Wednesday during a vigil at the Fairfield Community Center to plead for a compassionate release, reduction in sentence.

“We’re trusting and believing that the Lord who has the last say so, will allow Larry Paul Langford to be able to come home,” said Fairfield Councilman Herman Carnes, “… whatever time the Lord sees fit to take him, that’s between him and the Lord, but we ask that the federal government will honor and have compassion to allow this man to come home to be with his family, his wife, his children … he can be in the comfort of his family.”

Attorney Tiffany Johnson Cole, who has been in the forefront of getting Langford released, said, “We are prayerful and hopeful that something would change as it relates to the compassionate release and or the pending…petition. His health status is what it is . . . so we’re just prayerful.”

Langford grew up in Loveman Village public housing in Titusville and served a two-year term on the Birmingham City Council in the late 1970s. He had been one of the first black personalities on Birmingham television as a reporter for WBRC-TV in the early 1970s.

He served as a Birmingham City Councilor from 1977 to 1979 and as a four-time elected mayor of Fairfield from 1988 to 2002. He was elected to the Jefferson County Commission in 2002 where he served as president from 2002-2006.

In 2007, after losing the county commission presidency to Bettye Fine Collins, he ran for mayor of Birmingham.

In a field of 10 candidates that included incumbent mayor Bernard Kincaid, Langford won the election without a runoff capturing 50.1 percent of the vote. He served as mayor from 2007-2009.

In 2009, Langford was convicted of 60 counts of bribery, money laundering and other charges. The jury found he accepted about $236,000 in bribes to steer business to Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount. He was handed a 15-year term in a federal prison.

In prison, his health deteriorated and he was issued an oxygen concentrator and nebulizer and needed the use of a wheelchair to get around. According to the prison bureau, he often became fatigued with strenuous exertion and was assigned an inmate companion to assist with movement and pill line. 

Ameera Steward contributed to this post.