Community Colleges

Former Director of Alabama Fire College Found Guilty of Stealing $1.5-Million

June 12, 2008

A federal jury today found a former director of the Alabama Fire College guilty of using his position to steal more than $1.5-million in taxpayer money, according to The Birmingham News. Prosecutors argued that W.L. Langston had used the money, in part, to build himself a home and to employ relatives in nonexistent jobs.

Mr. Langston, 66, was found guilty on 36 counts of theft, conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering, the News reported. He faces prison sentences of up to 20 years on several of the counts and may be ordered to repay up to $1.7-million.

The star witness for the prosecution was Roy W. Johnson Jr., the former chancellor of Alabama’s system of two-year colleges. Mr. Johnson testified that he and Mr. Langston had agreed to “look after” each other’s children and employed them in jobs where they had no real work, the News reported. In January, Mr. Johnson agreed to plead guilty to numerous counts of conspiracy, money laundering, and bribery.

Both cases are connected to a scandal in the two-year-college system involving accusations of widespread nepotism, political patronage, mismanagement, and theft. The charges have led to the ouster of many top officials, and a new chancellor was brought in a year ago to clean up the mess. —Elyse Ashburn