Mary Ann Ahern
Rep. La Shawn Ford (third from left)
State Rep. La Shawn Ford pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to allegations he used a $500,000 line of credit meant to rehab homes for personal expenses.
Ford, 40, was indicted last month on eight counts of bank fraud and nine counts of submitting false information to a bank. He faces a maximum 30 years if found guilty.
A judge on Tuesday set bond at $4,500 and scheduled a status hearing for Jan. 11. The judge allowed a request from Ford to skip the hearing to attend to business in Springfield.
"I'm fine and I will fight this," Ford told NBC Chicago last month. "I don't feel they are right. ... The error is that they just don't know the full story of what went on."
Ford received big cheers and applause as he walked through the court lobby Tuesday. At least 30 to 40 people turned out to support him.
According to the indictment, Ford had multiple loans with ShoreBank, including a $1 million line of credit, which he was permitted to use solely to purchase and rehabilitate investment properties. On May 22, 2006, he obtained a $500,000 increase -- to $1.5 million, and a two-year extension of the credit line, allegedly by submitting false tax return documents that inflated his personal and business income.
Ford was first elected to the Illinois House in 2006 and represents the state's 8th legislative district. He made his name in real estate, opening his own firm, Ford Desired Realty Inc. He was successful with real estate but took a big hit when the housing market crashed a few years ago.
Ford is the third Chicago area politician indicted this year. His attorney, Tom Durkin, also is representing Rep. Donne Trotter, arrested at O'Hare Airport last week for allegedly trying to board a plane with a gun in his bag.