A shell-shocked Illinois State representative, indicted Thursday on federal bank charges, said the feds have the wrong idea about him.
"I'm fine and I will fight this," La Shawn K. Ford told NBC Chicago. "I don't feel they are right ... the error is that they just don't know the full story of what went on."
Authorities say Ford, 40, was given a $500,000 line of credit from a bank to rehabilitate homes but instead used the money on personal expenses.
Ford was unaware of the indictment until reached by NBC Chicago.
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.
On seven different occasions between April 2006 and March 2007, Ford applied for and obtained a total of $373,500 in advances from the credit line, allegedly by making false statements that he intended to use the funds to rehabilitate six different investment properties on the city’s west side. In each instance, however, Ford allegedly knew that he intended to use the funds, in part, for expenses unrelated to the specific rehabilitation projects. The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $832,000.
Ford 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 was raised by a single grandmother, attended a Catholic seminary and at one time considered becoming a priest. He's a graduate of Loyola university and has also worked as a teacher and a basketball coach.
Ford was first elected to the Illinois House in 2006 and represents the state's 8th legislative district, which comprises the west side of Chicago, and several western suburbs, including Oak Park, Berwyn and Brookfield. He serves on numerous state committees including the Juvenile Justice Reform committee, which is chaired by Annazette Collins, one of his primary opponents.
In the last gubernatorial election, he endorsed former Illinois comptroller Dan Hynes over Gov. Pat Quinn.
Ford is the third Chicago area politician indicted this year. Illinois representative Derrick Smith has been indicted on charges of bribery, and Cook County Commissioner William Beavers has been indicted on campaign fraud charges.
Each count of bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.