Saturday, April 28, 2007
MEMPHIS, April 27 -- Former state senator John Ford (D), a prominent member of a politically powerful family, was convicted Friday of accepting $55,000 in bribes.
But the federal jury deadlocked on the more serious charge of extortion, creating a mistrial on that count. Ford was acquitted of three counts of witness intimidation.
The prosecution's case depended heavily on showing jurors videos of the once-influential state senator stuffing his pockets with $100 bills counted one by one by an undercover FBI agent.
Ford's defense contended that he thought he was being paid as a business consultant for a computer recycling company. But the company was a fake created for an FBI investigation of corruption among state officials.
The sting, code-named Tennessee Waltz, resulted in the arrests of five sitting or former lawmakers and several local government officials.
Ford served in the state legislature from the 1970s until May 2005, when he resigned a few days after his arrest. He is the brother of Harold E. Ford Sr. (D), Tennessee's first black congressman, and the uncle of Harold E. Ford Jr. (D), who replaced his father in Congress and served 10 years until losing a race for the U.S. Senate last year.