State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford indicted on bank fraud charges - KMSP-TV

State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford indicted on bank fraud charges

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CHICAGO (Associated Press) -

Illinois state Rep. La Shawn Ford was indicted Thursday on federal bank fraud and other charges, less than a year after another Chicago-area state representative was indicted on federal charges, kicked out of the state House but then sent back by voters.

In a news release, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Northern Illinois alleged that Ford, a Chicago Democrat, fraudulently obtained a $500,000 increase and a two-year extension on a line of credit from the failed ShoreBank.

In the release, prosecutors said the charges do not involve Ford's position as a legislator. They say he falsely stated that he intended to use the funds for work related to his real-estate business. Instead, they say, he put the money toward car loans, credit cards, payments to a casino and his 2006 campaign for state representative.

Ford, who has operated Ford Desired Real Estate, Inc. and has invested personally in real estate, said in a statement that he was innocent of the charges he only recently was informed about.

"I believe I did not break the law, and I look forward to the truth being told and justice being served," wrote Ford, who represents the 8th House District that includes the west side of Chicago and a number of suburbs.

His office said Thursday he was not immediately available for comment, and a call to his cell phone was not answered.

Ford, who won office in 2006, is known for hosting regular career fairs in the Chicago area through his workforce development initiative, which includes email blasts with employment leads.

His indictment follows the March indictment of another Chicago Democrat, state Rep. Derrick Smith, on charges that he accepted a $7,000 bribe in exchange for helping what he thought was a day care center to obtain a state grant.

Smith had been appointed to his seat. After his House colleagues voted 100-6 to relieve him of his duties, he refused to take his name off the ballot and was elected last month to a full term.

David Morrison, of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said that while both Ford and Smith were indicted by federal authorities, there are key differences.

Morrison said his understanding is that Ford, whom he said spent about $170,000 of his own money for his campaign in 2006, is accused of fraudulently borrowing money to keep his business afloat.

"That's a run-of-the-mill misrepresentation," he said.

In contrast, "Smith was appointed to office and before he runs, he's indicted for taking bribes," he said. "That's a bold Chicago story."

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