State Rep. Ford vehement in defense against federal charges

Ford insists he is innocent of bank fraud charges that he submitted false tax info to extend line of credit and diverted funds for personal use

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

­State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-8th) was indicted early Thursday afternoon by federal authorities on bank fraud charges (click here to read the indictment). But by the time the sun started to set, Ford was strongly defending himself in an interview with Wednesday Journal.

He vehemently denied the charges and insisted he had committed no bank fraud in the years before he was elected to office and while he was actively buying and rehabbing homes on the West Side.

"An indictment is an accusation and a theory of what those people believed happened as far as the life I live," Ford said, adding that he plans to continue to serve as state representative while he fights the charges.

In a 17 count indictment released Thursday by the Chicago office of the U.S. Attorney, Ford was charged with bank fraud against the now defunct ShoreBank. Ford said every property that ShoreBank approved money for was completely rehabbed. Two of those properties were set to be sold but those deals fell apart when the housing market tanked, he said.

"There was no property that was left undone," said Ford, who founded his real estate company, Ford Desired Real Estate, in Austin in 2001. A former teacher, Ford ran twice for state representative before winning in 2006.

Ford was charged with fraudulently obtaining a $500,000 increase and a two-year extension on a line of credit from ShoreBank diverting the funds toward car loans, credit cards, other mortgages owed the same bank, payments to a casino in Hammond and his 2006 campaign for Illinois state representative.

He was first elected state representative in 2006 for the 8th District which includes areas in both the city of Chicago and the suburbs, including much of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago and south Oak Park, including all of Oak Park south of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Ford, 40, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday and charged with eight counts of bank fraud and nine counts of submitting false information to ShoreBank. That Chicago bank failed in 2010 and currently operates as Urban Partnership Bank.

Each of the 17 counts carries a $1 million fine, a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, and mandatory restitution, according to a press release issued Thursday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago.

Ford allegedly had multiple loans with ShoreBank, including a $1 million line of credit, which was meant to be used solely to purchase and rehab investment properties, according to the indictment.

Federal authorities allege he obtained a $500,000 increase on the original line in May 2006 plus a two-year extension by submitting false tax return documents that inflated his personal and business income.

In addition to potential prison time, the indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $832,000.

Speaking by phone to Wednesday Journal shortly after the news of the indictment broke, Ford responded nearly point-by-point to the lengthy indictment.

As for the charge that he needed the money to support a lavish lifestyle, Ford insisted that he has been successful in real estate through legitimate means and didn't need to commit any crimes.

"This is a case of the feds not knowing how real estate is done in the community," Ford said. "I respect their job, but I also have a job to do and that's to defend myself."

Since his 2006 win, Ford has been something of a rising star on the local political scene. He's also had the reputation of being squeaky clean when it came to scandal. Ford noted that himself.

"Since 2007, when I was first elected, there has been nothing that anyone can point to that's been crooked, but they have to go back to 2006 and say I committed bank fraud?"

Ford now joins a lengthy list of indicted Chicago politicians, including former Austin Ald. Isaac Carothers, who resigned from office in 2010 after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. Ford in 2006 defeated incumbent state Rep. Calvin Giles, whose uncle, former Austin Ald. Percy Giles, was indicted in 1999 on corruption charges.

Ford said he looks forward to fighting the charges against him but knows he's up against a formidable foe.

"That's what people say, the feds indict people they believe they can beat," Ford said. "That's why a lot of people plead guilty, because they know they're tough to beat. But that's why we have a justice system that looks at the truth."

Ford says he will meet with any interested constituents at his district office, 5104 W. Chicago Ave., Thursday and Friday evening at 5 p.m. to discuss this case.

Media are not allowed at these sessions, according to a release late Thursday from his office.

 

Indictment of State Rep. LaShawn Ford

Reader Comments

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Merdonne jones from Chicago  

Posted: August 4th, 2014 7:22 PM

I have always voted for you and always will...keep the faith and hopefully I will be able to meet you someday in person.

Cdonovan2  

Posted: December 3rd, 2012 4:13 PM

Lone voice, you are wrong. FBOP was far better capitalized than you claim, and there was only one shareholder.

Lone Voice  

Posted: December 2nd, 2012 4:26 PM

Yo Bruce: FBOP allegedly lost over $2B maybe even $3,000,000,000. All insured by the taxpayers - you and me. That's like maybe as much as $100,000 a household in Austin. Did he do that much good? Certainly doesn't warrant awards while Ford who cost us nothing gets a jail cell. I'd rather have the $2B back rather than spend resources indicting people who actually pay for the consequences of their actions.

Cdonovan2  

Posted: December 1st, 2012 9:27 AM

Public records indicate that over the years LaShawn Ford had mortgages on about 20 properties, nearly all in Austin. The records indicate that the large majority were "released"; meaning paid-off. There are no foreclosures, so no equity-skimming.

Data Driven  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 9:20 PM

Did Ford cost anybody anything? I'm still waiting for some indication that he defaulted on the loan, or even missed a payment, or that he didn't perform the rehabs that he promised. All the Feds are alleging is that he diverted "part" of the loan.

Data Driven  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 9:14 PM

This indictment smells to high heaven. The question that every reporter out there should be asking is: "Who did Ford piss off?"

Data Driven  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 9:11 PM

Carol Marin is asking all the right questions: http://www.suntimes.com/news/marin/16720877-452/la-shawn-ford-is-small-fry-for-feds.html Even Rich Miller of Capitol Fax is skeptical of the Feds' case.

Bruce Samuels from Oak Park  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 7:04 PM

Mike Kelly did more for Oak Park and the south and west sides than you will ever know. He knew and followed the true meaning of the Community Reinvestment Act. Just try and get US Bank to live up to the spirit of the CRA! Kelly is sorely missed.

Lone Voice  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 6:39 PM

Didn't say FBOP was fraud. Said that a white guy costs the taxpayers maybe $2,000,000,000 or more and they give him awards and compare him to Jesus (not kidding). Black guy costs taxpayers nothing - $500k and he goes to jail. Doesn't seem right.

OPRF Achievement  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 2:33 PM

@Lone - the FBOP had nothing to do with fraud. Supposedly "Safe" investments into Fannie Mae (As stated time after time by Barny Frank) tanked. At the time, Fanne Mae was considered a Safe and risk adverse investment by a bank. In no way compares

Lone Voice  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 1:24 PM

White Illinois politicians "earn" millions under cover of laws they make amongst themselves, while they indict hapless black pols as red meat diversions for the idiot masses. Meanwhile, the real game plays on and the real money changes hands.

Lone Voice  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 1:10 PM

If you are white and your bank allegedly loses $2B (yes, Billion) of taxpayer backed money, the WJ declares you Villager of the Year (Kelly and FBOP). If you are black and lose 1/4000 of that you get indicted. That's how the Illinois media rolls.

Steve West from Oak Park  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 12:56 PM

Let me guess - because he is black he has been picked on unfairly. I can just see Stan West starting the article. Most politicians are ego maniac crooks whatever the color.

Diogenes  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 11:12 AM

Lone Voice, you're absolutely right. Don Harmon sold out IL consumers as a political lapdog for banking interests: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-04-30/news/ct-edit-cullerton-20100430_1_illinois-banks-video-gambling-lawsuits

Common Sense  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 10:37 AM

Banks are also looking for anyway to push liability back on someone else on loans that do go bad. This is why it is such a PITA to get a mortgage documentation wise

Common Sense  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 10:15 AM

The real crime is the submitting of false tax returns. Back then, lenders often didn't pull Form 4506-t which is a transcript from the IRS to make sure the tax returns match those submitted by the borrower.

Common Sense  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 10:09 AM

There was a ton of mortgage/credit fraud back in 2005/2006. A lot of times when a borrower misses a payment or some other red flag pops up, the banks start looking deeper into a loan and the fraud is discovered

A realist from Oak Park  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 10:06 AM

The Cook County Democratic Machine owns Oak Park, and LaShawn Ford just earned his stripes in the machine by getting indicted. Don Harmon should rejoice: OP voters are about as smart as those who voted for Jessie Jackson Jr. Can't help being cynical.

Brian from Oak Park  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 10:06 AM

Data, think about what you're saying. The bank's collateral, which is tied to its regulated risk based capital requirement, is the building. You can't say you're collateralizing a loan with property, then spend it on cars, political debt, etc.

muntz  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 10:00 AM

Never a good sign when you're indebted to a casino.

Lone Voice  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 8:41 AM

Don Harmon introduces legislation that allows banks to collect 365 days of interest in just 360 days. Google the Tribune article for the details. Which costs consumers more? Black pols one-off criminal stuff, or the white pols legal big-time plays?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 7:54 AM

A Black politician in Illinois gets indicted - how can that happen? Oooops you guys are eating your own!

Bill from Forest Park  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 11:54 PM

It's pretty simple: You don't get to apply for a $500,000 extension to a $1 million line of credit saying you're using the money for one thing, then use it for various and sundry other things. If, in fact, Ford did so, then he committed bank fraud.

Lone Voice  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 7:21 PM

Black politicians get indicted. Don Harmon makes big bucks in his law practice. Harmon reportedly introduced legislation letting banks collect 365 days of interest in just 360 days. Tribune covers these things, but not his local paper, the WJ. Why?

Data Driven  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 7:20 PM

If the bank is getting their money, then why do they care that Ford is (allegedly) spending his line of credit on other things? How is this more than a technical violation? More importantly, why do the Feds care? What is really going on here?

Data Driven  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 7:17 PM

Here's another question. I just finished reading the indictment, and there is no indication that Ford defaulted on the loan. If he defaulted, I can see the problem, but if he didn't, then where is the loss?

Bill Sullivan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 6:40 PM

I always found it curious that Mr Ford loaned his campaign committee almost $160,000 in the three months prior to the 2006 primary and wondered about the source of those loans.

Data Driven  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 6:32 PM

WJ says: "Ford responded nearly point-by-point to the lengthy indictment." I say: Hey, how about sharing that with us, WJ? I hate to tell you how to do your jobs, but that kind of stuff sounds newsworthy.

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 5:09 PM

This officially qualifies LaShawn to run for higher office in Illinois! Perhaps he could duke it out with Mel Reynolds and Todd Stroger for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s seat. Or he could follow in the footsteps of George Ryan and Rod Blago and run for Gov.

Diogenes  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 5:07 PM

Sad news, but his defense does not inspire confidence, nor does the claim of being aboveboard since 2007, as if 2006 were irrelevant. Saying the rehabs were completed is not the same as saying the loan money was not misspent.

Kaidrea  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 4:53 PM

I really like LaShawn as a State Rep. This is really NOT as serious as some of the real crime happening. There have been over 300 young black people murdered in the Austin community since 2006 while in Oak Park there has been maybe 1.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 4:18 PM

Right, Ray. Because so many of these people end up cleared of all charges. Right.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 4:05 PM

While these charges are very serious, it is always prudent to wait until there is a defense presented and to withhold judgment until such time evidence from both sides is available.

Paul Rubio from Oak Park  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 3:49 PM

It's sobering to see that the political corruption has hit so close to home, as I am a resident of southern Oak Park, in District 8. I can only hope that this situation provides us citizens an opportunity to right some wrongs in government.

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