Landlord pleads to lying about seeking favors from councilman - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Landlord pleads to lying about seeking favors from councilman

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A businessman pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to lying to a grand jury about his business dealings with a former city councilman who faces unrelated bribery charges.

Dennis Churchwell said he lied last year when he denied that former councilman Edmund Ford had owed him more than $20,000 in back rent on commercial property in 2005.

Ford voted that year for a land use permit Churchwell wanted. He has not charged with wrongdoing because of that vote.

Ford faces federal bribery charges, however, in two unrelated cases. He is accused of taking payoffs to back a real estate project and with conspiring to swap political favors with the city's former utility director to avoid paying utility bills.

Ford has pleaded innocent to those charges. He did not to run for re-election last year.

Churchwell is set for sentencing in August and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, though federal guidelines will likely call for a much lighter punishment.

Ford is the brother of former state Sen. John Ford, who was convicted on unrelated bribery charges and is scheduled to begin serving a 5 1/2 year prison sentence this month.

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

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