Thursday, May 26, 2005

And It Begins

Already, the digging and poking and examination that is one of the positive hallmarks of blogospheric journalism is producing results. The TeamGOP blog has a pair of pearls.

First, they had an eyewitness at the courthouse when the first three defendants appeared for arraignment:
All three defendants walked in the courtroom handcuffed and each were arraigned separately. Senator Kathryn Bowers seemed somewhat confused and distraught. She said she did not have a lawyer there present with her and did not understand what was going on. She stated, “I don’t have nobody” to the judge. An older gentleman referring to himself as Ward Crutchfield’s law partner told the judge he would explain to Bowers what was going on. The judge agreed.

Next was Senator Crutchfield who walked in slumped and looking as if all the color had left his face leaving him “ashen.” Senator Crutchfield looked tired and broken,’s man in the room said he looked “destroyed.” Crutchfield was represented by attorney and Democrat heavyweight Bill Farmer.

State Representative Chris Newton appeared to be handling the situation the best. Newton was smiling, described as “jovial” and a “tad cocky” and was even seen winking at an unidentified female seated in the courtroom. Newton was represented by Attorney Howser.

All three were released on their own recognizance without posting a cent for bond.

Judge Brown wanted to know where the fourth defendant, State Senator John Ford, was since he was absent from the courtroom. One of the US Attorneys stood and said that under Federal Rules guidelines, Ford had been transferred to Memphis for his first appearance.

The judge said in his thirty years of legal practice he had not seen such a transfer before, but seemed to happily accept it. Before adjourning Judge Brown did ask about the 7th yet unidentified defendant who is reportedly going to be arrested soon and should he make himself “available” for anything later in the day. The US Attorneys told him there would be no more action today.
Note that they were arraigned less than five hours after arrest. Had that been you or me, we'd be held over the weekend for a court appearance on Tuesday, after the Memorial Day holiday.

And Ford was transferred to Memphis? That should be interesting....

In their other post, TeamGOP writes:
A quick read of the five count federal indictment against Tennessee Democrat State Senator John Ford, uncle to current US Congressman Harold Ford Jr., reads like something out of a John Grisham novel with current and former legislators and two “bag-men” indicted.

However there is one interesting part of the indictment that spans beyond public corruption and beyond bribery in Tennessee state government and beyond death threats to undercover FBI agents and right to Tennessee’s 2006 US Senate race with newly announced candidate Harold Ford Jr.

That small item that may have huge consequences is the location where John Ford made his alleged illicit deal and allegedly accepted a bribe, Miami, Florida.

According to the US v. John Ford indictment on page 4 paragraph 2 under “OVERT ACTS” for Count 1, John Ford made a deal on July 17, 2004 with undercover FBI agents in Miami, Florida that they would have to pay him $3000 to $5000 a month in order to buy the assistance from Ford they sought.

According to the US v. John Ford indictment on page 5 paragraph 10 under “OVERT ACTS” for Count 1, John Ford discussed the timing of proposed legislation and accepted a $5000 bribe from undercover FBI agents in Miami, Florida.

Perhaps this is just a coincidence or just bad luck, but John Ford’s brother, former Memphis Congressman Harold Ford Sr. now lives in Miami, Florida. According to several public records the father of US Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. resides on Fisher Island Drive in Miami Florida. This adds some new twists to an already bizarre story.
The Commercial Appeal did a big puff piece on Harold Ford, Senior's new life of leisure in Florida. I'll try to find it later. Hopefully, they can be counted on to follow this tidbit down.

These are but the first of what is likely to be a long string of blog posts from all over the Internet of sharp-eyed folks sharing what they know. Watching how this unfolds will tell us a lot about the future of political scandals.

INSTANT UPDATE Wow, that was fast. I have learned that Ford is being kept overnight in Federal custody for his hearing tomorrow, here in the River City. Finally, Ford has apparently met an official he can't threaten and get away with it! Please, please, please, let there be someone downtown in the right place at the right time with a camera or cam-phone.

INSTANT UPDATE UPDATE Watching the local news. Defendants Ford, Dixon and Myers went to the Federal Building for their hearing. Ford is being detained overnight. Dixon has reportedly blamed one the others for his problems. Roscoe Dixon is being represented by County Commissioner Walter Bailey! Wow.

Myers is being called the "bagman" in this scandal, at least locally. I hope folks in the local reporting pool start following all these links.

WPTY/24's Alexis Amorose saw John Ford in court and described his appearance as "slumped... upset." He was also in handcuffs and shackles. Shackles! Unbelievable.

Finally, just before 5PM Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton issued a statement to the media saying that Dixon is expected to resign his new position of administrative aide to Wharton before the end of the day. Wharton must be furious.

I cannot wait for WMC's political commentator and disgraced former Wharton aide, Susan Adler Thorp, to pontificate on this. Go ahead. The irony is thick like honey and every bit as sweet.

UPDATE 6:30PM Just heard WMC's Jason Miles say that John Ford is being held at the Federal facility in Mason. That's the West Tennessee Detention Center (section 3.1.4), owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.

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