Once powerful Tennessee state senator faces federal prison

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - For three decades, John Ford was a force to be reckoned with in Tennessee politics.

In the state Senate and in Memphis, Ford was known as a tough, shrewd politician and a leading member of one of the state's largest and most active political families, although his political talents often were overshadowed by his taste for fancy cars, flashy suits and high living.

Now, with a federal prison term looming before him, the good times appear to be drawing to a close.

Ford, 64, left the Senate in 2005 shortly after his indictment on corruption charges in an FBI investigation called Tennessee Waltz that led to extortion and bribery charges against five current or former state lawmakers.

On Friday, a U.S. District Court jury convicted the Memphis Democrat of taking $55,000 in bribes from undercover agents pretending to seek legislative favors for a computer recycling company called E-Cycle Management.

Ford has vowed to appeal. "We fought for Mr. Ford's innocence, and we're going to keep fighting," defense lawyer Michael Scholl said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)