* Carol Marin writes about Rep. LaShawn Ford…
In the Great Recession, the Obama Justice Department has sent no Big Bankers to jail for the billions they plundered, but it went after a lone black state representative for 17 counts of felony bank fraud? The charge: improperly using a $1.5 million line of credit from ShoreBank in his struggling real estate business, with some of the money going to pay personal debts.
Amazingly, not a single soul from ShoreBank responsible for lending Ford the money, nor a single other customer — many white — was charged with making bad loans or defaulting on loans.
Only La Shawn Ford was bagged by the government. What set him apart? He was an elected official, though the charges had nothing to do with his performance in office.
* I’m excerpting too much for Fair Use, but whatever. More…
First elected in 2006, Ford went up against the regular Democrats who endorsed the incumbent hack, Calvin Giles. It took Ford three tries, but he finally won.
The Machine was stunned.
Life has always been against the odds for La Shawn Ford. The son of a drug-addicted mother, he was raised by his grandmother and sent to Catholic schools. And then to the seminary.
Ultimately, his path took him to teaching and business. And politics.
At his 2012 arraignment in federal court, the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building filled with people from his neighborhood. Unlike when fellow state Rep. Derrick Smith was indicted on bribery charges, there was an outpouring on behalf of Ford that is seldom seen in the granite courthouse.
The surprise plea deal on Monday comes less than two months after Durkin in June accused prosecutors of unfairly targeting Ford because he is a black elected official — a charge they angrily rejected.
But evidence from a separate civil case showed that white defendants who engaged in identical behavior to Ford’s at ShoreBank were not criminally charged, Durkin argued in court papers at the time.
“There is no doubt that Defendant’s status as an African-American elected state public official drives this case,” Durkin wrote. “As counsel have argued in detail, but for his status as an African-American elected state public official, Defendant would not have been indicted.”
Though Pallmeyer refused to throw out the case on those grounds, it’s an argument that could have caused a political problem for prosecutors at trial.
Subscribers know more about that motion.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Ford could be sentenced to up to 6 months in prison, but probation is the most likely outcome in part because he is first-time offender.
In pleading guilty to the misdemeanor, Ford admitted that in his 2007 tax return he over-reported what he spent to rehab a single-family house in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, reducing his capital gain from the sale of the home. The deception cost the Internal Revenue Service a tax loss of $3,782, according to the plea deal.
Keep in mind that those original 17 felony counts carried a maximum total penalty of 510 years in prison and $17 million in fines. But he probably won’t do any time now and just pay four grand or so to the government.