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The charges against State Rep. LaShawn Ford are serious. Seventeen counts of bank fraud which allege that money loaned for the rehab of West Side houses was diverted to pay a gambling debt, for car payments and other personal uses. And these charges have been brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office which has a sterling reputation in its prosecution of corrupt Illinois politicians.
So why do we ask you to reserve judgment in the case of Rep. Ford? For three reasons:
There are a large number of people on both the West Side and in Oak Park — the communities he represents in Springfield — who are standing with Ford in these first days since his indictment. These are people we know and whose judgment we respect.
The charges against him do not relate to his six years in office. Unlike most of the political thugs who get indicted and convicted around here, no one is accusing him of selling out his office for profit. These charges tie back to Ford's days as a Realtor and home rehabber and how he handled bank funds.
We respect his body of work as a legislator. And, we'd suggest, given the quiet emanating from Springfield, that his colleagues there are willing to be patient for a fair hearing of his case. This reaction is in marked contrast to the near instant demands that fellow West Side legislator Derrick Smith be expelled from the House almost immediately after his indictment.
Time will tell. The government will make its case against Ford. We hope that he will have the funds necessary to mount a credible defense. And then our system of justice will rule. That is time enough for us.