Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Langston: 666 convictions reversed, and affirmed.

In U.S. v. Langston, No. 08-16356 (Dec. 22, 2009), the Court reversed some convictions but affirmed others for a former Executive Director of the Alabama Fire College convicted of embezzlement.

The Court found that, for some counts, Langston was not an agent of the State of Alabama, but instead an agent of the Alabama Fire College. The Court noted that Langston served at the pleasure of the Fire College Commission, not the State of Alabama. However, the Court upheld other convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 666, finding that Langston was an agent of the State in his capacity in the Alabama Poison Center.

The Court also rejected Langston’s argument that the district court should have given an “advice of counsel” defense instruction to the jury. The Court noted the absence of evidence that Langston actually relied on any legal opinion.

The Court affirmed Langston’s 125-month sentence. The Court noted that the sentence was 43-months below the Guideline range. The Court declined to “reweigh” the factors addressed by the district court. The Court also rejected a comparison to the sentence of another offender who cooperated with the government’s investigation, noting that “there is no unwarranted disparity when a cooperating defendant pleads guilty and receives a lesser sentence than a defendant who proceeds to trial.”