West Side Illinois state Rep. LaShawn K. Ford last Thursday became the latest elected official to be indicted on federal charges.
A grand jury handed down the 17-charge decision that alleges that Ford committed bank fraud and other illegal acts when he received a $500,000 increase and a two year-year extension on a line of credit he transacted with now-defunct ShoreBank. He is also charged with lying about how he would use the money.
Ford, who has represented Illinois’ 8th District since being elected in 2006, will be arraigned at a later date not disclosed by the FBI, which announced the indictment on Nov. 29. The state representative was charged with eight counts of bank fraud and nine counts of submitting false information to the bank.
Ford denies the charges and said publicly that he is “honest” and “hard-working.”
The 40-year-old politician operated Ford Desired Real Estate Inc. and also invested personally in real estate financed through ShoreBank — which is now Urban Partnership Bank.
According to the indictment, Ford had multiple loans with ShoreBank, including a $1 million line of credit that he was to use only to buy and rehab investment property. On May 22, 2006, he obtained a $500,000 increase—to $1.5 million—and a two-year extension of the credit line, allegedly by submitting false tax return documents that inflated his personal and business income.
The federal government contends that on seven different occasions between April 2006 and March 2007, Ford applied for and obtained a total of $373,500 in advances from the credit line, allegedly by making false statements that he intended to use the funds to rehabilitate six different investment properties on the West Side. In each instance, however, Ford allegedly knew that he intended to use some of the funds otherwise.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $832,000.
If convicted, Ford faces up to 30 years in prison for each count and a maximum $1 million fine. He would also face mandatory restitution.
Ford’s indictment came four days before another official was set to begin his trial on federal tax fraud charges. Jury selection began Monday for Cook County Commissioner William Beavers who is accused of not reporting income he got after converting for his person use money from his campaign and county discretionary accounts . Also, Ford’s West Side colleague, indicted state-Rep.-elect Derrick Smith, will be reseated in the Illinois House in January. Smith was indicted in March on federal bribery charges. He was expelled from the House in August but re-elected to his post in November.
The three men join a list of elected officials who recently faced federal charges. Former 29th Ward Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers was released in March from federal prison after serving time for 2010 charges of bribery and tax fraud. Former 20th Ward Ald. Arenda Troutman will complete her four-year federal prison sentence later this month after pleading guilty in 2008 to two-counts of bribery.
By Rhonda Gillespie