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BROKE Alabama County Files for Bankruptcy Butch Dill / AP Photo

Alabama County Files for Bankruptcy

Not all debt crises are going down in Europe: Jefferson County in Alabama has filed for bankruptcy, making it the largest municipality to do so in U.S. history. The county—which was the subject of a long Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi in 2011—owes more than $3 billion on a sewer deal. Several officials have already gone to prison on corruption charges stemming from the deal. When Taibbi visited Jefferson County, he spoke with families whose sewer bills rose 400 percent in just a few years. “Birmingham's mayor was convicted of fraud and money-laundering for taking bribes funneled to him by Wall Street bankers—everything from Rolex watches to Ferragamo suits to cash,” Taibbi wrote. “But those who greenlighted the bribes and profited most from the scam remain largely untouched.”

November 10, 2011 6:21 AM