SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
The story behind the government’s retreat in the LaShawn Ford case

Monday, Aug 11, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

As you probably know by now, the US Attorney’s office in Chicago has agreed to drop all felony charges against Illinois state Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and has charged him instead with a simple misdemeanor.

The original 17 federal counts of bank fraud and submitting false information to a bank each carried potential sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine - meaning Ford was essentially looking at spending the rest of his natural life behind bars for allegedly falsely obtaining a higher credit line that he wasn’t eligible for and using part of the proceeds for things unrelated to the loan’s stated purpose.

The new charge of delivering a false tax return to the IRS is calculated in the plea agreement to be a term of zero to six months.

What the heck happened here?

The Assistant US Attorney who was in charge of Ford’s case also handled state Rep. Derrick Smith’s investigation. Smith was recently convicted of accepting a cash bribe, but one of the jurors in the trial told the Chicago Tribune after the verdict that some of his colleagues struggled with what they considered to be “sleazy” federal tactics.

Ford’s legal team included famed criminal defense attorney Tom Durkin. The team filed a motion in June which attracted some press coverage over an explosive claim that Ford was being targeted because he was a black legislator. But the motion to dismiss the indictment also revealed for the first time how the case began, which Ford’s attorneys said “belie the notion that this is an even-handed, simple bank fraud case.”

At the time of Ford’s indictment, the US Attorney’s office claimed the investigation fell “under the umbrella of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force,” which the feds claimed was investigating “significant financial crimes.”

But an FBI report from May of 2011 shows that a mortgage broker under indictment was asked by the FBI about a loan officer who worked out of an office owned by Ford. The broker was asked if he’d ever spoken with Ford, if he knew whether Ford had other offices and if he knew whether Ford managed his campaign office out of his realty office. The case title on the FBI form was “CSLPO,” which means “Corruption of State and Local Public Officials.” Ford’s lawyers wrote that the federal probe was “undeniably a politically motivated investigation.”

The defense also pointed to a recent FDIC civil suit brought against ShoreBank, where Ford did business. One of the defendants was alleged to be negligent for violating policy on 20 loans. The defendant was also Ford’s managing loan officer. The allegations included misconduct by other ShoreBank loan customers (several of whom are white) which appeared to far exceed Ford’s. And a 2008 internal FDIC report uncovered by Ford’s attorneys described the legislator as being “extremely cooperative” with the bank, and pointed to what Ford’s lawyers say was the his real problem - the downward spiral of the real estate market.

“Unable to find any political corruption grounds to prosecute Defendant, the prosecutors selected this misguided and improper bank fraud case,” Ford’s attorneys wrote. Ford’s attorneys also demanded information from prosecutors about any other federal investigations of ShoreBank customers and any directives from above on how to handle the Ford investigation.

The Assistant US Attorney who handled Ford’s case has since left for private practice and a new US Attorney is now in place. Those two career moves appeared to have put some fresh eyes on this Ford matter, particularly after that motion to dismiss was filed.

Whatever happened, US Attorney Zachary Fardon deserves plaudits for reexamining this prosecution. From the very start, the case appeared to be heavy-handed and overly charged and nowhere near in line with the financial task force’s goal of prosecuting “significant” crimes. It’s not often that a top federal prosecutor will back down, but Fardon obviously did and that’s to his great credit.

The new charges agreed to by Ford state he overvalued a property’s rehab costs by about $23,000 when calculating his capital gains on the property’s sale, which wound up costing the IRS $3,782 in lost taxes.

“I regret this mistake,” Ford wrote to his colleagues last week, and concluded by saying he hoped the ordeal “will make me a better person and a more effective Member of the Illinois General Assembly.”

Ford obviously has his flaws, but I hope he can now move forward with his life.

* Related…

* Fardon explains LaShawn Ford plea deal: “It’s not our job to win or lose,” Fardon said. “It’s our job to do the right thing. My office is full of altruistic public servants who work hard every day to make hard judgments about what is the right thing given the particular facts and circumstances in front of them. That’s what we do. And so, in that case as in all, we did what we thought was right.”

* LaShawn Ford honored at West Side church

* Rep. LaShawn Ford Says He Still Has Supporters, Hasn’t Lost ‘Respect’

* Editorial: Ford’s sweet victory: The Journal has been stout in its defense of LaShawn Ford, not because we had any insights into his tax returns but because we have come to know him in our reporting of his efforts as Austin and Oak Park’s state rep over the past eight years and as a real estate developer before that. We could ask harsh questions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office because these charges have always seemed a gigantic overreach to us.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


15 Comments
  1. - Exodus - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 9:25 am:

    JMO, but reads like a shot at Fardon’s predecessor as USA for the Northern District.


  2. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    This is pretty unusual for the US Attorney’s office. They have an extremely high success rate because of almost unlimited investigative resources and they usually don’t move forward without metaphysical certainty of guilt.

    As usual, the negligent prosecutors move on and prosper without paying a price for their misdeeds.

    The damage has been done to Rep Ford. His legal bills must be well into the six figures. If there was justice, he’d be reimbursed for a substantial part of his defense…at the expense of the miscreant prosecutor.

    The US Attorney’s office used to be the “clean jeans” of the justice system, while the state’s attorney in Cook often had the dirty hands.

    This would be a good time for the new
    US attorney to publically comment on what happened, and establish his policy to avoid frivilous prosecution.

    Anyone think that will happen?


  3. - Coffee Cup - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 9:52 am:

    It probably was the right call. The U.S. Attorney’s office has to go wherever the facts of a case lead them so I certainly don’t fault them for initially pursuing the lead on LaShawn Ford. I would imagine that the inference and the accusation of racial overtones in this case might also have prompted the FBI and the Justice Department to want to “scale down” this potential hot potato.
    Here is a thought to mull over, though: When a case is dropped (although this one has not been dropped), wouldn’t it be the “morally” and “ethically” right decision for the Justice Department to reimburse the accused for any and all legal costs that they incurred in defending themselves against false charges brought against them by a federal or state investigation? I have watched these falsely accused people have to incur huge personal legal bills to defend themselves by using expensive attorneys (like Tom Durkin)and it just doesn’t seem fair to me. But, as my Uncle Bill used to say to me, “Who says life has to be fair?”


  4. - Amalia - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    and that former AUSA is probably out there defending people right now. who is s/he?


  5. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    And how many of the real perps in the economic meltdown have been prosecuted and put in jail?

    Not many.


  6. - Todd - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 10:15 am:

    I got to see this kind of thing from a very short distance. The feds have way to much power and very little oversight. They get more about the conviction and justifying the expenditures of all these federal resources, expecially if they do a big raid and such.

    they hate to walk away with nothing.


  7. - walker - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    Flimsier even than I suspected. Nothing ever there on the banking allegations.


  8. - Taxandspendfolly - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    This is a real dig at former USA Fitzgerald, whom the media seems to idolize. In fact those who dealt with the office under Fitzgerald know he was often unreasonable and had zero empathy or understanding of people. The office bluffed a lot under Fitz, and good defense lawyers would successfully call those bluffs. Tom Durkin was an AUSA back in the days of the giants, and he knew Fitz was bluffing. Fitz’ bad here.


  9. - West Sider - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    I’m reminded of Reagan’s Secretary of Labor, Ray Donovan who, after aquital of corruption charges, was famously quoted as asking, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”


  10. - Taxandspendfolly - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    And watch Fitz lose about half of his Blagojevich counts on appeal soon. That case was overcharged as well.


  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 11:48 am:

    –The Assistant US Attorney who handled Ford’s case has since left for private practice …–

    That’s what it was all about. Making a splash, putting some skins on the wall and cashing out.

    The lengths they went to entrap Smith and go after Ford were disgusting abuses of power. Had nothing to do with justice, just resume-building.


  12. - Illinois taxpayer - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    Are the Feds going to pay his legal bills too? God knows how many years he’ll have to work to pay those off because of an all too common abuse of Federal prosecutorial power.


  13. - Mokenavince - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    Ford looked like easy pickin’s for the former prosecutor . After all the G has all the money in the world for a beat down. Fardon did the right thing , and it’s about time.
    We actually have quite a few honest politicians in this State.


  14. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    @Mokenavince

    =We actually have quite a few honest politicians in this State.=

    Name about a dozen, and let us take our shots, Vince.


  15. - gg - Monday, Aug 11, 14 @ 5:57 pm:

    Ford should have walked clean.

    Feds are unfair bullies.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Cable TV buys
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner vetoes several social service bills
* Ok, that's enough
* I truly hate this US Senate race
* Rauner signs life insurance bill
* Question of the day
* State bond sale goes well, but still paid a higher price
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Picking on the little guys
* We've been a sorry state for a long time
* Munger and Mendoza face off in hostile debate
* I'm still befuddled by this move
* *** UPDATED x5 - Motion approved - Noven to withdraw - $421 million budget hit - One appointee appears to be ineligible - The plot thickens as three new board members appointed *** Controversy expected at TRS hearing today
* React to remap reform ruling
* Divided court kicks remap reform off ballot
* Yesterday's blog posts

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............
<


Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

  
* BLU homepage doesn’t mention Windows Phone products
* AT&T Galaxy S5 gets Marshmallow with S5 Active at nearly 11 months from Nexus image dump
* Spotify denies burying results for artists taking Apple Music exclusives
* Walter Duncan of Quick Key has some fascinating fixes for our edtech problems
* The flagship is dead, long live the new flagship
* Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus 10 expected at IFA 2016
* Eighth beta for Apple software out for devs, seventh iOS 10 beta for public

* Rodon rolls on to lead White Sox over M's
* X-rays negative after Eaton HBP on right arm
* X-rays negative after Eaton HBP on right arm
* Gonzalez on track for rehab assignment
* Sale, Quintana posting Cy Young-worthy numbers
* Sox topple Seattle on Quintana's gem, 4 HRs
* Sox topple Seattle on Quintana's gem, 4 HRs

...............


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress

Loading


* Andy Shaw: Who needs a park board when City Hal.....
* Chicago Schools Budget Uses Pension Overhaul to.....
* College Illinois! appears headed for a future b.....
* Fact check: All Kids health care spending on un.....
* Bill Daley wants an Illinois constitutional con.....
* Tom Kacich: 13th Congressional District a breat.....
* Union money contaminates Springfield..
* Judge Rules on Internet Infrastructure – Alton .....
* Editorial: We must not surrender to Illinois ‘t.....
* Governor Bruce Rauner Stops at IL State Fairgro.....


* 2 United pilots suspected of being drunk arrested in Glasgow
* 2 Chicago men charged in shooting of NBA star Wade's cousin
* Enrollment up at other Missouri universities as MU drops
* Ohio chief justice on court impacts, roles in drug epidemic
* Studies: Illinois' fixed-tuition law drives up others' costs
* Studies: Illinois' fixed-tuition law drives up others' costs
* University of Illinois game time texting system rarely used
* Northwest Indiana airports fight aviation downturn
* EXCHANGE: Labrador ready to help victims of child abuse
* EXCHANGE: Presidential museum gets rare Lincoln biography

* Despite budget warnings from Rauner, TRS board votes to lower investment estimates
* Progress on U.S. 67 sputters due to lack of funds
* New law makes insurance companies find, pay beneficiaries
* Decatur woman can petition to become nurse under new law
* Illinois redistricting referendum won't appear on ballot
* Comptroller hopefuls argue independence from Madigan, Rauner
* Springfield-area jobless rate remains lowest in Illinois
* Illinois 'Obamacare' health insurance rates up significantly
* Rauner's office warns teachers' pension change could be 'devastating'

* What do you get for $2,000 in rent?
* Cubs stars growing too big for Chicago market
* Warehouses are sexy all of a sudden. Here's why.
* How Macy's retreat is affecting this REIT's fortunes
* What's not to like about Obamacare? Plenty in Illinois


* Chicago Dancing Festival triumphs at Millennium Park finale
* Charles Osgood, 83, to step down at ‘CBS News Sunday Morning’
* Laura Washington: Lightfoot utters two words we dare not run from
* Editorial: Cutting through Chicago’s food-truck traffic jam
* 2 United pilots suspected of being drunk arrested in Glasgow
* Man shot driving in Fernwood, crashes vehicle injuring 2 children
* Andy Shaw: Who needs a park board when City Hall calls the shots?
* Monday letters: Revise police union contract for good of all
* Bears cut 10, including eight offensive players
* 64-year-old woman reported missing from Chatham


* Brothers held without bail in fatal shooting of Dwyane Wade's cousin
* Sen. Joni Ernst tries to rise with Donald Trump by her side
* It was a union for the ages, until it wasn't. Is Europe lost?
* US election so nuts I just might win, Libertarian Johnson says
* Nasir Phillips, East Aurora blow big lead but bounce back to beat Elgin
* Donald Trump has a massive Catholic problem
* Police search for driver in fatal Morton Grove hit-and-run
* Jon Lester, Cubs in scoreless tie with Dodgers in 3rd
* Italy to see if building negligence raised earthquake death toll; 291 dead
* Trump stand-ins struggle to speak for and defend nominee


The widget AQL4JYGHIY powered by Feed Informer does not exist.


* Angie Muhs: The ups and downs of online comments
* Bernard Schoenburg: Davis, GOP quick to attack independent Gill
* Statehouse Insider: Do we hafta put all of that money into pensions?
* Their View: Fair maps shouldn't be victims of partisanship
* Raising awareness to end domestic violence
* Mom's legacy lives on through fund
* Despite budget warnings from Rauner, TRS board votes to lower investment estimates
* Progress on U.S. 67 sputters due to lack of funds
* New law makes insurance companies find, pay beneficiaries
* Charles Krauthammer: The bribery standard


* Lower speed limit coming on McCullough Road, a key shortcut for closed Lancaster Road bridge traffic
* Random Acts of Kindness: Strangers help find lost hearing aid
* Motorcycle accident kills two in De Soto
* Daily Digest 8/28/16
* Divorces
* PFOP: Bloomington painter wowed, swindled Chicago’s high society
* Communities work to provide a playground for children
* New wave: Normal Township senior center exceeds expectations
* UI Library system has so much more to check out than books
* Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: Our residence has gone solar


* Gabutto Burger opening in Rolling Meadows next week
* How many is too many? IHSA may restrict how much young pitchers can throw
* Remembering the matriarch of West Chicago's Sonny Acres Farm
* Rodon continues second half surge as White Sox sink Mariners
* Titans waive 11 to trim roster before Tuesday's NFL deadline

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Des Plaines Gets $11.4 Million To Purchase......

* Kirk wants to widend locks, dams on Illino......
* Duckworth outlines principles for immigrat......

* GoFundMe Set Up For Funeral Of Man Murdered In Gang Crossfire
* Kinney serves as liaison to United Kingdom
* Using international experience to help Illinois REALTORS®
* Illinois home prices increase in July; Sales lower amid tight inventory
* CAR dedicates memorial to Maner, the association’s first African-American president
* QCARA members brush up on their painting skills at Habitat for Humanity project
* Illinois REALTORS® named to key NAR committee posts
* CAR Global Council panel discussion encourages understanding of different cultures
* NAR offers video about Aug. 29 drone rule changes
* NAR foundation will donate up to $350K in Louisiana flood assistance


* Statement on Redistricting Referendum
* Rauner Administration Takes Action to Help Illinoisans Find Lost Life Insurance Money
* Illinois Residents Encouraged to Register for ‘The Great ShakeOut’ Earthquake Drill - 'Drop, Cover and Hold On’ Drill Set for October 20
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Seeking Flexibility to Improve Delivery of Behavioral Health Care




      Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller