Black Congressman’s 2nd Bank Fraud Trial Nears End
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ A judge dismissed one of 19 charges against U.S. Rep. Harold Ford after defense attorneys rested their case in the 18-year congressman’s federal bank fraud trial.
Final arguments were to begin today and the case was expected to go to the jury Wednesday.
After testimony ended Monday, Judge Jerome Turner granted an acquittal on one of the 19 charges against Ford and 11 of the 16 charges against two co- defendants.
Ford remains charged with conspiracy and 17 counts of bank or mail fraud. Each charge is punishable by five years in prison.
Douglas Beaty and Karl Schledwitz remain charged with conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud.
Turner said the government failed to prove its case on the charges he dismissed.
The count on which Ford was acquitted was a mail fraud count - the last count listed on the indictment.
Ford is accused of taking handouts disguised as loans from former bankers and political allies Jake and C.H. Butcher Jr.
The Butchers’ banking empire collapsed in 1983 and they went to prison for fraud. Neither was called to testify at Ford’s trial.
Ford, 47, Tennessee’s only black Congress member, has argued since his 1987 indictment that he is the victim of racist prosecutors.
He contends his jury of 11 whites and one black was bused in from mostly white rural counties north of Memphis so prosecutors could limit the number of blacks on the panel.
Prosecutors deny those allegations.
Ford first went to trial in 1990 before a Memphis jury of eight blacks and four whites. It ended with a mistrial when jurors could not reach a verdict.