U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 20400 / December 17, 2007
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Larry P. Langford and William B. Blount, Case No. 07-23271-MC-Huck-Simonton (S.D. Fla., filed December 17, 2007)
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") announced it has filed an action in federal court seeking an order requiring testimony in an SEC investigation from Larry P. Langford, the current Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama and former Jefferson County Commission President, and William B. Blount, the chairman of Blount Parrish & Co, an SEC-registered municipal securities dealer and broker-dealer.
The SEC filed an Application For an Order Enforcing Administrative Subpoenas ("Application") today in U.S. District Court in Miami. The SEC's Application derives from an investigation into possible violations of the federal securities laws in connection with municipal securities transactions in Jefferson County.
According to the SEC's Application, SEC subpoenas required Langford to appear on December 11, 2007 and Blount to appear on December 12, 2007 in Miami for testimony before the Commission. Although both witnesses appeared, both declined to testify or articulate a recognized legal privilege that would excuse them from answering the staff's questions. Langford referred to privileges and a "right under the United States Constitution," as his reason for not answering questions, but would not clarify what he meant. Neither Langford nor his attorneys would confirm that his grounds for not testifying were protections provided by the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
The next day, Blount declined to answer all questions based on "advice from counsel." Blount's attorneys refused to identify the grounds upon which they instructed Blount not to answer, stating instead that Blount was entitled to generally assert all rights and privileges afforded him under the United States Constitution.
In its Application, the SEC cites its authority to conduct an investigation under a Formal Order Directing Private Investigation and Designating Officers to Take Testimony in the Matter of Jefferson County Municipal Bonds ("Formal Order") issued by the SEC on December 6, 2006. The Formal Order directs SEC staff to investigate whether any persons or entities, including but not limited to Langford and Blount, committed violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws in connection with the offer, purchase or sale of Jefferson County (Alabama) municipal bonds or security-based swap agreements. The SEC staff is also authorized to investigate whether such persons or entities, directly or indirectly, may have made false statements of material fact or failed to disclose material facts concerning, among other things, improper payments made in exchange for municipal securities business.
Through its Application in District Court, the SEC is seeking an order enforcing its subpoenas and directing Langford and Blount to testify under oath or assert a valid legal privilege as grounds for not answering questions. A hearing on the SEC's application has not been scheduled.