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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Larry Langford Is Found Guilty, But Where Was Mary Buckelew?

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford was found guilty yesterday on all criminal counts in a federal case that stemmed from his time as president of the Jefferson County Commission.

But here is perhaps the most intriguing question that rises in the wake of the Langford prosecution: Where was Mary Buckelew?

Buckelew, who served with Langford on the Jefferson County Commission, was supposed to be one of the prosecution's star witnesses. She pleaded guilty last September to an obstruction of justice charge because she lied to a federal grand jury about receiving $4,000 worth of gifts from an investment banker whose firm received millions of dollars in sewer-bond and swap transactions.

The investment banker was Bill Blount, the same fellow whose gifts to Langford were central to the government's case.

At the heart of Buckelew's plea agreement was her commitment to cooperate fully with the government. Prosecutors said Buckelew's cooperation was "essential" to their case. Buckelew was expected to testify against Langford, and prosecutors asked that her sentencing be delayed until November 12--after the Langford case was over.

So what happened? According to press reports, Buckelew never testified at the Langford trial.

That's a little like acquiring Albert Pujols in a trade just before the World Series and then leaving perhaps the best hitter in baseball history on the bench.

Birmingham attorney and video blogger Eric Guster addressed Buckelew's central role in the Langford case in a recent post at YouTube. Our guess is that Guster is asking the same question that we are asking today: Where in the heck was Mary?

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