WBEZ | LaShawn Ford http://www.wbez.org/tags/lashawn-ford Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en West Side politician's attorney says state representative unfairly targeted by feds http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-politicians-attorney-says-state-representative-unfairly-targeted-feds-106907 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/LaShawn Ford(1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Attorneys have come out with their defense for an indicted Illinois state representative charged with bank fraud.</p><p>State Rep. LaShawn Ford was indicted on 17 counts of bank fraud and lying to a now-failed bank. He&rsquo;s accused of getting a $500,000 increase and extending his line of credit with the bank to rehab Chicago properties. Instead, he used the money to pay car loans, a casino and expenses for his 2006 campaign.</p><p>The charges stem from Ford&rsquo;s dealings with ShoreBank in 2006, before Ford was elected to represent Chicago&rsquo;s West Side in Springfield.</p><p>Ford&rsquo;s attorney, Tom Durkin, said in a new court filing that Ford was indicted because he was elected.</p><p>&ldquo;He is the only person, to my knowledge, to ever get charged with anything out of the whole ShoreBank collapse,&rdquo; Durkin said in a phone interview Tuesday. &ldquo;Which I find odd.&rdquo;</p><p>ShoreBank provided loans to low income parts of Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. It shuttered after the housing collapse.</p><p>Durkin wrote in his court filing that Ford was a long-time customer of ShoreBank. The former head of the bank&rsquo;s loan committee once said of Ford, &ldquo;when an individual [like LaShawn Ford] is a well known customer of the bank, the paperwork may be more relaxed and not completed as thoroughly as by newer customers.&rdquo;</p><p>Durkin also requested that prosecutors identify the expenses that were allegedly unrelated to the rehabilitation of Ford&rsquo;s properties before trial.</p><p>Durkin said prosecutors wrongly charged Ford with 17 counts. He said some of those counts are duplicative, and could be in violation of double jeopardy standards.</p><p>Ford&rsquo;s indictment became public after he won re-election in November. He has since been named chairman of a new committee in the Illinois House called the Restorative Justice Committee.</p><p>&ldquo;Even before the situation that has occurred with me, you will see that my record shows that I&rsquo;ve always fought for a fairness in justice,&rdquo; Ford said in February of the appointment.</p><p>Ford&rsquo;s indictment came after federal prosecutors charged another Illinois state representative from Chicago&rsquo;s West Side, Derrick Smith, with taking a bribe. House members took the rare move to kick Smith out of office in August, but Smith regained his seat by winning election in November. House members have said they haven&rsquo;t tried to kick Ford out of office since the charges against him are not related to his time in public office.</p><p>A trial date for Ford has not yet been set.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Apr 2013 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-politicians-attorney-says-state-representative-unfairly-targeted-feds-106907 New Illinois House committee to investigate all elements of criminal justice system http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/new-illinois-house-committee-investigate-all-elements-criminal-justice-system-105310 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lashawn ford.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois House of Representatives has created a new committee to address inequalities in the state&rsquo;s criminal justice system, while the chairman of the new committee faces his own legal problems.</p><p>State Rep. LaShawn Ford is the chairman of the new Restorative Justice Committee.</p><p>He&rsquo;s also been indicted for bank fraud.</p><p>&ldquo;Even before the situation that has occurred with me, you will see that my record shows that I&rsquo;ve always fought for a fairness in justice,&rdquo; Ford said.</p><p>He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.</p><p>Ford said he wants to address some wide-ranging issues in his new position, from finding jobs for ex-offenders to disparities in sentencing guidelines to reducing violent crime in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a state of emergency that&rsquo;s going on in the communities,&rdquo; Ford said.</p><p>Ford&rsquo;s fellow Democratic committee members also expressed a desire to use the committee to discuss the variety of issues that relate to the criminal justice system.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen in the debate after the terrible shooting incident in Connecticut how issues of criminal law and mental health and, you know, other different categories sort of intersect,&rdquo; said State. Rep. Greg Harris. &ldquo;And I think we need to take a holistic look at all of those things.&rdquo;</p><p>But several House committees already address the individual issues the committee members said they hope to discuss. Harris said the Restorative Justice Committee will address all sides of these issues.</p><p>&ldquo;I think often in government, things tend to go in silos where you look at things based on the source who uses the funds and there&rsquo;s a lot of interrelationships between levels of education and levels of job preparedness and the availability of jobs in the community along with mental health issues and substance abuse and crime,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So to look at them just in a - isolate the little box may not give you the whole picture.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The problem is, we&rsquo;re kind of fragmented,&rdquo; said another Restorative Justice Committee member, State Rep. Mary Flowers. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve passed laws that really don&rsquo;t - we really don&rsquo;t communicate very well.&rdquo;</p><p>Flowers gave the example of how the state mandates that children go to school, but not all kids have the same resources once they get to school.</p><p>She said one of her goals of the committee is to address how people in Illinois view crime, echoing the approach of restorative justice as a crime fighting technique. Flowers said she wants to use the committee to prevent violent offenders from committing a crime in the first place.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easy to talk about putting 200 more police officers on the streets,&rdquo; she said, speaking of last week&rsquo;s announcement from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that he was reassigning administrative police positions to patrol the streets. &ldquo;But the police officers gonna come in contact with these same people and the only thing they gonna do is lock them up. For the most part, some are deserved. But then what? They didn&rsquo;t lock them up for life. They want to come back on the streets. Where are the jobs? Where are (sic) the training? Where are the opportunities?&rdquo;</p><p>For his part, Ford, the chairman of the committee, said he hopes to find ways to save the cash-strapped state money by cutting down on things like high recidivism rates in Illinois&rsquo; prisons.</p><p>No legislation has been assigned to the committee yet. House Republicans have not announced who from their caucus will serve on the Restorative Justice Committee.</p></p> Mon, 04 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/new-illinois-house-committee-investigate-all-elements-criminal-justice-system-105310 Lawmakers shy away from calling for Rep. Ford to resign http://www.wbez.org/news/lawmakers-shy-away-calling-rep-ford-resign-104141 <p><p>Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Illinois are holding off on calling for the resignation of indicted State Rep. LaShawn Ford.</p><p>Federal prosecutors indicted Ford for bank fraud <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/state-rep-lashawn-ford-indicted-bank-fraud-charges-104118">Thursday</a>, accusing the Chicago Democrat of lying about how he would use a line of credit.</p><p>In their indictment, federal prosecutors said the 40-year-old politician took a $500,000 line of credit with the now-failed ShoreBank to purchase and rehab some properties, but instead used the money to pay off expenses from his 2006 campaign.</p><p>Ford allegedly used the money for payments to a casino in Hammond, Ind., credit cards, car loans and mortgages he held at the bank. Prosecutors also allege Ford falsely inflated his personal income in obtaining the line of credit.</p><p>Ford is the second state representative to face federal charges this year.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/derrick-smiths-attorney-compares-him-jesus-thinks-feds-might-be-targeting-jesse-white-103749">Derrick Smith</a>, who maintains his innocence, was arrested earlier for allegedly taking a bribe and kicked out of the House.</p><p>&quot;I see them as two very, very different issues,&quot; said Republican State Rep.&nbsp;Jim Sacia, who helped lead the charge to oust Smith because the alleged bribe had to do with his official duties as a representative.</p><p>But Sacia said Ford&rsquo;s accusations do not involve his official office responsibilities, so he&rsquo;s not calling for his resignation.</p><p>House Republican Leader Tom Cross made the same distinction between the separate charges facing Ford and Smith.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s just too early at this point to make a recommendation on House action based on information in the indictment and public statements from the U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s office,&rdquo; Cross said in a statement.</p><p>Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn also wouldn&rsquo;t say whether Ford should resign.</p><p>&quot;That&rsquo;s up to him,&quot; Quinn said. &quot;He has to follow his conscience.&quot;</p><p>Ford said Thursday evening that he&rsquo;s innocent.</p><p>In a statement sent to constituents, Ford said&nbsp;he&rsquo;s introducing a resolution asking his colleagues to remain neutral and allow him to continue representing Chicago&rsquo;s West Side in Springfield.</p></p> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 14:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawmakers-shy-away-calling-rep-ford-resign-104141 State Rep. LaShawn Ford indicted on bank fraud charges http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/state-rep-lashawn-ford-indicted-bank-fraud-charges-104118 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lashawnford.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="image-insert-image ">An Illinois state representative from Chicago&rsquo;s West Side says he&rsquo;ll fight federal charges of bank fraud.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>State Rep. LaShawn Ford stands accused of 17 counts of bank fraud and lying to the now-failed ShoreBank. Federal prosecutors say the Chicago Democrat took out a line of credit worth $500,000 starting in 2006, thereby increasing his line of credit with the bank to $1,500,000.</p><p>In an indictment released Thursday, the U.S. Attorney&#39;s Office from the Northern District of Illinois alleges State Rep. LaShawn Ford, 40, said he would use the increase in the line of credit to purchase and rehab some properties, but instead used the money to pay off expenses from his 2006 campaign for state representative.</p><p>He also allegedly used it for payments to a casino in Hammond, Ind., credit cards, car loans and mortgages he held at the bank. Prosecutors allege Ford falsely inflated his personal income in obtaining the line of credit.</p><p>Ford operated Ford Desired Real Estate, Inc.&nbsp;</p><p>Thursday night, Ford met with reporters to deny the charges.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re good writers,&rdquo; he said, speaking about the prosecutors.</p><p>Ford said he&rsquo;s innocent and that prosecutors tell a good story.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not one property that they could find that money was not used - all the money wasn&rsquo;t used to complete the task of the properties,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>A court date for Ford to formally enter his plea has not yet been set.&nbsp;Ford is the second sitting Illinois state representative to be indicted on federal charges this year.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 14:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/state-rep-lashawn-ford-indicted-bank-fraud-charges-104118 Illinois House votes to ban trans fats http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-house/illinois-house-votes-ban-trans-fats-85173 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-14/81791416.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Trans fats could soon be illegal in Illinois. The state House of Representatives has voted to ban trans fats in all restaurants before 2013. It would also force schools to throw out some snack foods sold in vending machines.</p><p>State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said trans fats increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.</p><p>"It's worse than saturated fat, because it eats away at the good cholesterol and worsens the bad cholesterol. So it has a double effect," Ford said.</p><p>California is the only other state in the U.S. to have banned trans fats. Oak Brook-based McDonald's also recently cut trans fats from its U.S. menus.</p><p>The measure still needs approval in the state senate.</p></p> Thu, 14 Apr 2011 11:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-house/illinois-house-votes-ban-trans-fats-85173 As Illinois redistricting begins, public gets say http://www.wbez.org/story/chinatown/illinois-redistricting-begins-public-gets-say-84382 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-28/IMG_0008.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois state senators are hearing from Chicago area residents who want a say in redistricting, the once-a-decade, highly contentious and political process that determines boundaries for legislative districts. It is about power and influence, and on Monday afternoon dozens of people showed up to tell senators how they want the boundaries drawn.<br /> <br /> Kyle Hillman lives in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood, and said the community is a poor fit for its current district.<br /> <br /> &quot;There's a high crime rate and it has one of the largest food kitchens in the metro area, and yet it is included in a district that is mostly consisting of lakefront homes in Evanston in New Trier,&quot; Hillman told the Senate Redistricting Committee.<br /> <br /> Others complained their neighborhoods span several districts, watering down the community's influence.<br /> <br /> &quot;The greater Chinatown community area is a vibrant and cohesive community. Its interests are not served by being split into multiple districts, as it is currently,&quot; said Bernie Wong of the Chinese American Service League.</p><p>C. Betty Magness with the group IVI-IPO urged the senators to ignore politicians' addresses when they draft the boundaries.<br /><br />&quot;Districts should not be drawn to favor or discriminate against incumbents, candidates or parties,&quot; Magness said.<br /><br />Another issue that came up Monday has to do with the addresses of prisoners. Right now, they are counted as residents where they are incarcerated, which is most often downstate.<br /><br />&quot;Prisoners should be counted where they originate from, instead of where they're currently housed,&quot; testified Lawrence Hill with the Cook County Bar Association.<br /><br />The Illinois House could actually vote to make that change as early as Tuesday, according to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. LaShawn Ford. But the Chicago Democrat said it would not take effect until the next redistricting - ten years from now.</p><p>Monday's hearing was the first of <a href="http://ilsenateredistricting.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=78&amp;Itemid=117">at least five public forums</a> for the Senate committee. Lawmakers have until the end of June to approve a new legislative map, or the process will be put in the hands of a <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con4.htm">special commission</a>.</p></p> Mon, 28 Mar 2011 21:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chinatown/illinois-redistricting-begins-public-gets-say-84382