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Indicted state Rep. Ford denies charges: “No bank fraud in my blood.”

IIllinois State Rep. LShawn K. Ford

IIllinois State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford

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Updated: January 1, 2013 6:27AM



A defiant state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford called a 17-count federal bank-fraud indictment lodged against him Thursday “ridiculous,” proclaimed his innocence and vowed not to step down from his West Side House seat.

“There’s no bank fraud in my blood,” Ford told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The prosecutors — they have a good writer, and they wrote a good story. I lived the story, and I’ll tell the story. I’m not a bank fraud, that’s for sure,” he continued. “I’m a hard-working man. They have a way of working, and I have a way of living. I’m honest.”

Ford, 40, of Chicago — who also invests in Chicago real estate — allegedly fraudulently obtained a $500,000 increase and a two-year extension on a line of credit from a failed bank called ShoreBank and made false statements to gain multiple advances, according to a federal indictment returned by a grand jury Thursday.

Ford operated Ford Desired Real Estate, Inc., and also invested personally in real estate, got the loans to rehabilitate specific buildings, but instead allegedly used the funds to pay unrelated expenses, including, car loans, credit cards, mortgages, payments to a casino in Hammond, Ind., and for his 2006 campaign for Illinois state representative, the indictment alleges.

“I spent every dime I had in real estate. Everything that I own, everything I ever made went through to real estate. What I didn’t spend in real estate, I spent to serve the people,” he said. “I financed my own campaign. You don’t do that for over $200,000 when you know you’re a bank fraud or you know there’s something that could come back and bite you in the ass.

“Why would you spend your own money like that if you knew you were dirty?” Ford asked.

The charges do not involve Ford’s position as a state legislator after he was first elected in 2006, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Ford represents the 8th House District, which includes portions of the West Side and the near west suburbs.

He was charged with eight counts of bank fraud and nine counts of submitting false information to the bank in a 17-count indictment.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $832,000, according to the news release.

Each count Ford faces carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and restitution is mandatory.

Ford said he became aware his finances were being investigated when his accountant received a federal subpoena in May. He said he spoke to federal investigators in June.

“I didn’t know I would ultimately be a target. I thought this was more or less where you have a failed bank, and they’re doing an investigation on every one who did business with this bank,” Ford said.

Chicago-based ShoreBank, which did business with borrowers on the South and West sides, failed and was taken over by federal banking regulators in August 2010.

“They’ve gone through its records, and they want to find ways to recoup money. They want to find reasons ShoreBank failed,” Ford said. “I’m sure not the reason they failed. Every property I got a line of credit to draw from, I completed the property. There’s not one property they can find where the property wasn’t completed.”

Ford said he has no intention to resign because of the indictment.

“I ran for office for times like this. I ran for office because people like me have been wrongfully accused, and people have written stories about them that have ruined their lives,” he said.

“There’s no reason for LaShawn Ford to resign unless he can’t be a legislator for the people of the 8th District. My work speaks for itself. My actions speak for itself,” Ford said, noting his only other brush with the law was a speeding ticket.

“I can walk proudly and defend myself because I know I am not a fraudulent person,” Ford said.

Ford also said he hopes not to be the target of another effort by the Illinois House to expel one of its members.

In August, the legislative chamber voted to oust state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) for allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe from an undercover FBI informant who was acting on behalf of a purported daycare center operator seeking Smith’s assistance in obtaining a $50,000 state grant. Smith went on to win election in November despite being under federal indictment and will be seated in the House in January.

Ford voted present on the resolution to expel Smith, one of only three lawmakers to do so. Six voted no.

“It’s up to the speaker of the House and the members,” Ford said, when asked whether he thinks he too could face possible expulsion.

“I want to serve in the House of Representatives. I want a place where people understand this is America and in America, we believe in justice. We say the Pledge of Allegiance every day when we convene [in Springfield].

“An indictment is no more than an accusation, no more than a hypothesis, their theory of what they believe happened back in 2006 of 2007. This is 2012,” Ford continued. “There’s no damn way.”



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