Former Sen. Ford ordered to begin prison term within 60 days - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former Sen. Ford ordered to begin prison term within 60 days

John Ford John Ford

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Former state Sen. John Ford must report to prison in 60 days to begin serving a 5 and 1/2 year sentence for bribery, a federal judge said Thursday.

Judge J. Daniel Breen rejected Ford's request to remain free while defending himself against unrelated corruption charges in Nashville and while his ex-wife, with whom he has four minor children, serves almost a year in jail for drunken driving.

Ford, 65, declined comment on the judge's decision.

Ford, a Memphis Democrat who spent three decades in the Senate, was convicted last year of taking $55,000 in payoffs from undercover FBI agents posing as dishonest businessmen seeking legislative favors.

He was scheduled to report to a Texas prison in December, but was granted a delay by Breen in November following arguments that Ford's children with ex-wife Tamara Mitchell-Ford, ages 2 to 15, would suffer unnecessarily with both parents behind bars.

Ford said he needed to arrange care of the children.

"He can't release her from jail," defense lawyer Robert Brooks said at a hearing before Breen. "He's done everything he can do to provide for those children until she is released."

Breen said he saw little progress on Ford's child care efforts and noted that he apparently does not live with the youngsters full-time while getting child care help from a longtime companion with whom he also has children.

Breen rejected Ford's request to remain free on bond while appealing his conviction, saying he found no legal grounds for granting it.

Ford is scheduled for trial in Nashville in June on unrelated charges of concealing $800,000 in payments from state contractors while he was a senator. Being in prison, he argued, would hamper his trial defense.

Ford's courtroom arguments focused on his children, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza said criminal prosecutions often lead to hardships for families of the convicted.

"It happens in every case," DiScenza said. "Somebody suffers."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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