LaShawn Ford pleads guilty to misdemeanor

Monday, August 4, 2014
(FILE) Illinois State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Felony bank fraud charges were dropped against Illinois State Rep. LaShawn Ford. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of filing a false tax return.

Under the plea agreement, Ford pleaded guilty to the single misdemeanor and 17 felony bank fraud counts against him were dropped. The single misdemeanor is not directly related to Ford's job, which means he won't have to give up his office.

Why the deal? Prosecutors will not say and Ford's attorney chose to praise the U.S. attorney's office.

"It's a tremendous concession they should be praised for - a lot of prosecutors' offices would have been belligerent to pursue the case to trial and run the risk of losing," Tom Durkin said.

Attorney Durkin said the case against the West Side involved ridiculous overreach. Durkin argued that his client was targeted because he is a black public official.

Ford was accused of lying to a West Side bank to boost his line of credit, and then using some of the money to pay personal expenses. In the end, he pleaded guilty to lying about money he spent rehabbing this home, a move that short-changed his 2007 tax bill by $3,782.

I'm sorry I underestimated my taxes, but the work that Mr. Durkin and John Herman did I'm pleased with their work and I'm sorry with my - the consequences, and actions I made," Ford said.

Client and lawyer were careful is choosing their answers for what is a remarkable turn-about seldom seen in the Dirksen Federal Building.

Sentencing still lies ahead and the guidelines could call for six months in prison.

"With his unblemished background and the other counts dropped, I don't think it's likely to happened. I think he'll get probation," Professor Richard Kling, IIT College of Law, said.