John Ford sentencing hearing postponed

MEMPHIS , Tenn. (AP) - A judge has postponed John Ford's sentencing hearing in his bribery conviction. In a motion filed earlier this week, the former Memphis lawmaker's attorney asked that the sentencing be delayed until after another corruption trial set for September in Nashville.

"Defendant would submit that a sentence given to the Defendant prior to trial in Nashville would affect his overall criminal history," the motion states. "Further the pending trial limits the Defendant's ability to testify in his sentencing in Memphis ."

As an alternative, the motion asked for a 30-day extension to complete paperwork. The judge granted only a monthlong extension.

The new hearing is set for Aug. 27. In the Nashville case, Ford is accused of taking more than $800,000 in consultant payments from two contractors with TennCare, the state's expanded Medicare program, while using his position as a Democratic state senator to promote those contractors' interests.

While being paid as a consultant, Ford also served on three committees with authority over TennCare.

He chaired the Senate General Welfare Committee and was a member of the TennCare Oversight Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

In Memphis , Ford was convicted for taking $55,000 in bribes from undercover agents pretending to seek legislative favors for a computer recycling company.

The sting operation called Tennessee Waltz led to corruption charges against Ford and four other state lawmakers.

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