BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Larry Langford blamed everyone but himself when he stood outside the courthouse moments after he was convicted on federal corruption charges and ousted as Birmingham’s mayor. He said he’d been treated worse than Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous mass murderer and cannibal.
That remarkable exercise in free speech could cost Langford additional time in prison at his sentencing, one of Langford’s lawyers and a legal expert said Monday.
Federal judges can increase a criminal defendant’s sentence for a lack of remorse or to promote respect for the law, and Langford was hardly contrite during his statements to reporters just moments after his trial ended with a sweeping rebuke last week.
Langford mischaracterized the evidence against him more than once, claiming two main witnesses testified they never gave him anything. The two men actually told of showering Langford with checks, clothes and jewelry worth thousands.
Langford was just getting started. He went on for about 20 minutes, blaming racism and the media for his conviction. He accused jurors of sleeping during the trial and failing to look at the evidence. He said the government was out to get him.
“Hitler wasn’t treated this bad,” Langford’s wife, Melva, said.
“Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t treated this bad,” added Langford.
Glennon F. Threatt Jr., one of two defense attorneys for the ex-mayor, fears the rant could mean additional time behind bars for Langford.
“I don’t want it to because he is my client. But if I were a federal judge I would not want people out there saying the system is racist and they were treated worse than Hitler,” Threatt said.
Langford, 63, faces what Threatt said is a likely sentence of 12 to 15 years imprisonment after being convicted on 60 felony charges including bribery, fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and filing false tax returns. He’s already agreed to forfeit $241,000 because of the conviction.
U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler has yet to set a sentencing date.
Federal judges have great leeway in imposing sentences, and they can go tougher on criminal defendants who fail to show sorrow for their crimes, said David E. Patton, an assistant professor and director of the criminal defense clinic at the University of Alabama law school.
“Certainly I wouldn’t be surprised if the judge takes into account his post-trial statements and his other statements at sentencing,” Patton said.