The Daily Muck

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December 2, 2008 9:04 a.m.
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Birmingham mayor Larry Langford was arrested Monday on charges of steering sewer contracts to a friend while on the commission of Jefferson County, which is now near bankruptcy. The FBI handed down a 101-count indictment for the Democratic “Mayor LaLa” as well as Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre, who both had posts in the local Democratic party, accusing the men of a “pay to play” scheme involving bribes of $12,000 watches and spa treatment. Langford, elected in March, has earned a reputation for an unorthodox approach to urban revitalization, which has included handing out a $10,000 contract to a 13-year-old girl interested in improving parks. (AP)

Trial opens at 10am today for the high-profile case that pits civil liberty groups against the Bush administration and telephone companies, who are being sued for illegally granting the government access to consumer records. Congress passed a bill in July that would give the businesses immunity, a move prosecutors say is unconstitutional. (Wired)

The indictments brought against Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales by a south Texas district attorney were dismissed yesterday on a legal technicality, with the judge ruling that “two alternate jurors had not been properly substituted.” Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra, who had charges against him for extorting money from a bail bond company and using his office for personal business dismissed last month, had accused Cheney and others of prisoner abuse. The judge issued a warning to Guerra — who will step down from his post in January — to be more judicious in his criminal prosecutions. (AP)Last week, the judge in the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) granted a hearing to review a letter filed by David Anderson saying he had lied under oath. On Monday, the judge rescheduled the hearing for Jan. 15 in order to consider the defense’s request to question the witness. In October, a jury convicted Stevens of concealing more than $250,000 in gifts, despite a considerable number of prosecutorial missteps. (Legal Times)

Eric Holder, who was announced yesterday as Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general, was more closely involved in the pardon of tax fugitive Mark Rich than has been acknowledged, reports the New York Times. The paper cites “more than half a dozen contacts” with Rich’s attorneys during the 15-month review of the case. (New York Times)

New York GOP Rep. Vito Fossella faces five days in prison as punishment for his conviction for drunk driving. Prosecutors filed papers Monday asking Judge Beck Moore to sentence the congressman to 180 days of jail time, with 175 suspended. Fossella, whose arrest triggered revelations of an extra-marital affair, will retire in January. (Roll Call)

A federal investigation of the use of offshore tax shelters for clients by investment bank UBS now has expanded to include Credit Suisse and HSBC, reports the New York Times. The probe is looking into allegations that the banks arranged for clients to hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts designed to avoid taxes. (New York Times)

President Bush issued an executive order Monday that rescinds bargaining rights for approximately 8,600 federal employees, including members of the Immigration Department and Federal Air Marshals Service. The rights were first granted in the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act. Bush has issued a series of “midnight orders,” many designed to weaken environmental and labor regulations, that will go into effect before he leaves office. (New York Times)

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