Birmingham’s Own Gay Porn Scandal

Well, this certainly should get everyone’s attention.

A charity Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford created more than seven years ago to give every child a computer faces scrutiny from a donor and federal prosecutors over its use of more than $1 million in taxpayer money, including payments on personal credit card bills, expenses for “elaborate” trips and checks written to a star of gay-porn films.

The questions about Computer Help for Kids, created in 2000 to carry out Langford’s first computer-for-every-child promise as Fairfield mayor, come as the Birmingham City Council considers an agreement allowing a new charity backed by Langford to distribute computers to students. John Katopodis, a close friend of Langford who is organizing the mayor’s initiative, faces questions in a civil lawsuit and in federal subpoenas about how he managed Langford’s first computer charity.

The civil lawsuit filed by HealthSouth Corp., which donated money and computers, questions why the first computer charity gave Langford money, paid for casino trips and handed out donated computers to friends and politicians.

What a great plan! Need someone to run your new computers for kids initiative? Hire the same guy who’s under criminal investigation for his handling of your last, unsuccessful, computers for kids initiative. The same guy who used taxpayer dollars and private donations to do things like pay $30,000 to Marc Anthony Donais, a/k/a Ryan Idol, porn star.

Katopodis testified in his deposition that Donais, the adult-film actor, was paid to help the Council of Cooperating Governments and the Computer Help for Kids programs, both of which were handling money and expenses for Langford’s computer initiative. Donais, a former Playgirl Magazine centerfold, has starred in seven gay adult films. Katopodis pointed out in his testimony that Donais also has appeared in plays in New York City.

“He’s a businessman and had been working as, had done several off-Broadway productions and had been writing a play,” Katopodis testified. “I don’t know what else he was doing, you know.”

Donais received $5,000 from the computer charity and $25,000 from the council, according to court filings. “He’s very good at working on computers,” Katopodis testified. “He’s very adept at computers. But at the time he was working at the Council, he didn’t work on computers.”

Under further questioning, Katopodis said Donais worked for the computer charity without any formal training in that area.

“He repaired computers. He, as I say, helped us, he traveled helping to try to set up computer programs in other areas among disadvantaged communities,” Katopodis said.

Uh huh. Okay, I get that actors and writers aren’t always the best paid people in the world, and I’m sure they get tired of waiting tables to supplement their artistic income. But there are plenty of trained computer technicians out there, and I bet a few of them are unemployed and looking for work at any given time. Surely Mr. Katapodis could have hired someone who was qualified. Not to worry, though; I’m sure he can produce a job description and W-2s or 1099s to back up his story.

Or maybe not.

Katopodis refused to allow Birmingham’s auditors to review detailed financial records in 2002, when then-Mayor Bernard Kincaid’s staff questioned how $200,000 of the city’s money was being spent.

I sense a pattern here. In Langford’s June 2007 SEC deposition, he went to great lengths to blame then-Jeffco Finance Director Steve Sayler for the problematic interest rate swaps that resulted in an extra $150 million cost to county taxpayers. The same Steve Sayler who is now Finance Director for the city of Birmingham.

Go read the whole article. Then check out this piece at Mixed Media. Birmingham is in deep shit. I hope the City Council will start digging it out.

ADDENDUM:  It looks like the City Council is starting to wake up.

H/T, ALMod and Peggy.

9 Responses to “Birmingham’s Own Gay Porn Scandal”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Well maybe it’s just me, but the whole problem with government is we don’t have ENOUGH gay porn stars running the show!! AS a matter of fact, I am Ryan’s campaign manager for his presidential bid!

  2. Roy says:

    So this guy was being paid to work on John Katapodis’ hard drive?

    I personally have no problem with charities giving money to porn stars under false circumstances, but GAY porn stars. That goes too far.

  3. ALmod says:

    I’m still not sold that the council will act in the best interests of the city. $1 million in pork is a big incentive. My hope is that the news reports will keep the public aware enough to give the council incentive to do what is best for Birmingham.

    For me, it’s not so much the gay porn thing… It’s funny as hell, yes, but I don’t have an issue with hiring a gay porn star– IF he is qualified to do the job. The problem is that this is blatant nepotism or return of a favor or something. The guy just wasn’t qualified for the position. The fact that he’s a gay porn star just makes the story flashier, I suppose, and I guess it would make the problem of Langford and Katapodis hiring their friends and doing favors a bit more noticeable. I mean, this isn’t the first time that it’s been made obvious that they’re hiring the same people that they hired before who screwed up. And people didn’t seem to “get” it. Now that there’s a “gay porn star” involved, well people are starting to see the bigger picture. It’s a shame that it happens that way.

    It killed me reading Duncan’s response to this whole thing and saying that she didn’t see any connection between the new and old charities– despite the fact that they involve a lot of the same people and even happen to have the same address for the same pita shop.

  4. Kathy says:

    Sorry, everyone. I figured this story would draw some comments; I should have realized they’d all end up in moderation. Not to worry; I’ll approve ASAP.

    ALMod, I was pretty floored by Carol Duncan’s comments as well. They don’t even make sense.

    “He’s not involved. He’s not a member of any board. He has nothing to do with it,” Duncan said. “If it takes it, Katopodis should step away from the table, but Katopodis is not at the table.”

    At least the rest of the councilors voted to table this mess for a couple of weeks. I figured the vote would be 8-1 the other way, with Valerie Abbott being the lone voice of reason, as she so frequently is.

  5. Bill says:

    I tried to comment yesterday, but was laughing too hard to think. I started to comment just now, but am laughing too hard to think. Roy’s hard drive comment would be a culprit here….

    This would be too over the top to be a sitcom.

  6. [...] published reports) CHFK had all the cash they needed to spread money around for questionable and shady expenses.  TechBirmingham had a barebones office and an extensive web presence.  CHFK has lavish offices [...]

  7. Jeff (no, the other one) says:

    No jokes involving any computer terms (up to and including RAM, inserting floppy disks, hard drives, or overclocking the processor) should be allowed in light of such serious issues.

    Charles Dickens couldn’t make this stuff up.

  8. lizzie and nick says:

    found Jeff amusing
    better then doing geography coursework anyday

  9. The first time that i tried overcloking over a year ago, my CPU got overheated and got fried.“.

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