Judge releases ailing Langford from prison

Judge releases ailing Langford from prison

By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The terminally ill former mayor of Birmingham is being released from federal prison after a judge agreed with prison officials Friday that his debilitated medical condition and limited life expectancy warranted a sentence reduction.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler reduced former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford’s 15-year bribery sentence to time served. The move came at the request of the acting director of the federal Bureau of Prisons who said in a court filing that Langford’s medical condition constitutes “extraordinary and compelling reasons” to reduce his sentence.

Langford, 72, has end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema and other ailments and the prison system estimated that he has a life expectancy of 18 months or less, according to the court filing. Langford had been housed at a federal prison medical center in Kentucky. The former mayor is being released in the care of hospice, his attorneys said.

Family members and a number of public officials, including U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, had urged the prison system to free Langford so he could spend his final days with family.

Family members said in a statement released by Langford’s attorneys that they are grateful for the outpouring of support.

“Mr. Langford has reached a point medically where there is nothing more that can be done for him in the facility. … We are all grateful that the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice saw fit to exercise compassion and allow him to return home with his family,” a statement from attorneys said.

Langford was convicted in 2009 of taking $235,000 in bribes while on the Jefferson County Commission in exchange for steering county sewer bond business to an investment banker. Prosecutors said during the trial that Langford accepted luxury suits, watches and cash.

Langford has served more than half of his 15-year prison sentence. Before the sentence reduction was granted, he had an estimated release date of 2023.

Federal prosecutors signed off on the sentence reduction and filed the request with the federal prison system.

“After reviewing the information provided by the Bureau of Prisons, it was our judgment that compassionate release and reduction of sentence was appropriate under these limited circumstances,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said in a prepared statement.