Thursday, June 02, 2005

No Luck

Twice in his indictment, it says that disgraced former State Senator John Ford travelled to Miami, Florida. In court testimony at his second bond hearing, Federal prosecutors said they flew Ford to Miami for "fun weekends." Tim Willis and Michael Hooks, Jr. are also said to have been in Miami. Both are satellites of the sprawling Ford family political machine.

The obvious question is, "Were they in Miami to vist, stay with, or conduct business with elder Ford brother, Harold, Sr.?" Harold Ford, Sr. has a lucrative "consulting" business there and lives in a very exclusive location: Fisher Island. With all of America to visit, and the fact that E-Cycle has offices in Atlanta, Nashville and Knoxville only (so far as I know), why would all these principals choose Miami and Fisher Island? The coincidence is beyond striking.

I called the Tennessee Western Division office of the Federal prosecutors today and got nowhere. The spokesman, LeAnn Jordan didn't know but also said she couldn't comment anyway if she did. She was very polite and friendly, but I didn't expect her to be able to answer, frankly. Still, I think the circumstantial evidence is strong enough to call this one answered.

I should also point out that I had wondered that John Ford only had two guns to turn in when he was arrested. Sure enough, he had two more. Can't wait the anti-gun lobby and their sympathisers in the press make hay of Ford's owning four guns. What possible use could anyone have for four guns, right?

According to that same article, Ford's attorney, Mike Scholl, let slip the name of Tim Willis twice in such a way as to make clear that he is the informant the FBI and Federal prosecutors were using. That squares with print reports like this and this, and television news reports like this. So why is Willis denying it all? Is it just reflexive "I didn't do it?"

I also have confirmation, of a sort, about a theory I had regarding how Willis got dragged in. As this story confirms, Willis was still in trouble with the FBI, even after his Mississippi credit card fraud conviction:
Willis was a close friend of the Fords who had worked on their political campaigns.

He'd also been convicted of a federal crime in Mississippi, FBI Agent Mark Jackson conceded.

Willis was convicted of credit card fraud in 2002 and served four months in the federal facility in Millington.

Scholl also elicited testimony from Jackson that Willis was the subject of another FBI investigation and was trying to keep from being indicted.
What that investigation is, and where it's headed, aren't revealed.

You have to wonder if it connects to the Shep Wilbun case. Wilbun and two other co-defendants were involved with illegal payments to cover up a sexual harrassment charge in the Juvenile Court Clerk's office a couple of years ago. Willis had connections to them, mostly through Calvin Williams I think. Remember how that whole case mysteriously was stopped on the first day of trial, after months of delay? Did any of those parties perhaps cut a deal with the Feds on the Tennessee Waltz investigation? Time may tell.

Williams, by the way, is another voice with reason to know who says more indictments are coming.

Whatever, as the young people say today.

Then there's the Hooks, Michael Sr. and Michael Jr., Shelby County Commission Chairman and City School Board member respectively. Hooks Jr. had his name brought up in relation to the Miami visits, and was forced to issue a statement of innocence. So did his father. You can read both in this Memphis Flyer story. This is a marked contrast to Willis' behavior. The Hooks name has only come up in relation to the Ford visits to Miami, other than this oblique reference and this story about Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton calling for a review of any County business done with or proposed for E-Cycle. (You almost have to pity poor Wharton, who seems to regularly have to put down allegations of misbehavior in County government.) As I noted below, this smacks quite loudly of ass-covering in advance of trouble.

It's a knotty and convulute problem, isn't it? There are at least four FBI investigations and/or Federal grand juries working right now. One is Tennessee Waltz; one is the Juvenile Court Clerk case; there's the MLG&W bond deal with Memphis Mayor Herenton; the last is the unspecified Willis case. Are these subsets of a larger case? Are they cooperating with each other?

As bad as the present situation is, it seems it can get a lot worse.

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