Testimony underway in Memphis trial of John Ford

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Testimony has begun in the federal public corruption trial of former state Senator John Ford.

FBI Agent Brian Burns explained in the Memphis courtroom today how the statewide Tennessee Waltz sting came about.

Burns said it sprang from a much more modest investigation in Memphis, where the agency was looking into allegations of kickbacks involving Juvenile Court. He said agents investigating that issue picked up information about corruption in Nashville and that led to the wider probe.

Burns was the first witness called in the trial of the 64-year-old longtime Democratic lawmaker.

Ford is one of five current or former state legislators indicted after the F-B-I set up a phony company, then agents posed as crooked businessmen trying to buy favorable legislation to get state computer recycling business.

He is accused of taking $55,000 dollars in E-Cycle bribes. He's also charged with threatening a federal witness.

In his opening statement, Ford's lawyer told the jury his client was working as a business consultant and thought he was working with businessmen who needed legitimate advice on dealing with state government.

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