Prosecutor says Ford took money from contractors - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Prosecutor says Ford took money from contractors

A government prosecutor told jurors Wednesday that evidence will show former state Sen. John Ford took money from state contractors while he was promoting their interests in his role as an elected official.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eli Richardson delivered his opening statement in Ford's corruption trial on Wednesday morning. The defense was scheduled to make its opening statement after a lunch break.

Ford's fate will be decided by a mostly white, female jury.  Edythe Trotter, dismissed as an alternate Wednesday, said Ford appears to be a changed man.

"The seemed arrogant to me at that point," she said. "Now, he's sitting humbly, sort of."

Ford, usually a dapper dresser, appears to be wearing the same conservative gray suit every day.  He appears to have lost wight, leading some to wonder if it is the only suit he has that still fits.

In court Wednesday, Ford's defender, Isaiah Gant, told jurors the governments case against John Ford is about the fact that, "He didn't tell."

"John Ford violated federal law because he didn't tell," Gant said.

But, Gant said, Ford did disclose he was being paid as a consultant by two major TennCare contractors - Doral Dental and OmniCare.  Gant said that, under Tennessee law, a few years ago Ford did not have to name the contractors.

Gant also argued that Ford was helping two TennCare contractors with business outside Tennessee in states where he had influence.  Prosecutors countered that Ford planned all along to keep his connection to the two companies secret.

Ford is accused of accepting $800,000 from Doral Dental and OmniCare.  Richardson said Ford "over and over, put in a good word for these two state contractors" and made more than $800,000 from the two companies.

Richardson added Ford's constituents had a right to his honest services, but said "the evidence will show the people of Tennessee had that right violated."

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