published Friday, April 15th, 2011

Court overturns some Ford convictions

MEMPHIS—A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned former state Sen. John Ford’s convictions for concealing material facts and wire fraud.

Ford was convicted in 2008 in Nashville for failing to disclose payments he accepted from contractors with TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program, while promoting their interests as a lawmaker.

Ford was sentenced to a total of 14 years on the two charges that were vacated.

Ford’s attorney Paul Mogin said Thursday the appeals court ruling was the right decision and he was pleased with the decision.

Federal prosecutors are reviewing the decision and exploring their legal options, which include an appeal of the ruling, said David Boling, a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman in Nashville.

Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, who was chairman of the chamber’s ethics committee when it investigated Ford’s consulting deals, said the ruling surprised him because TennCare receives money from the federal government.

“It’s a technicality that caused that to be overturned, and I disagree with that technicality because federal money was involved,“ Ramsey said Thursday. ”It doesn’t make sense.“

Ford is still serving a 5 1/2-year federal sentence on an unrelated bribery conviction stemming from the FBI’s “Tennessee Waltz” corruption investigation. In that case, a federal jury in Memphis convicted Ford in 2007 of taking $55,000 in bribes from undercover agents pretending to seek legislative favors for a fake computer recycling company.

Ford was first elected to the state Senate in 1974, an election that also sent a brother, Harold Ford Sr., to the U.S House of Representatives and another brother, Emmett Ford, to the Tennessee House of Representatives. He is the uncle of former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr.

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