Former Tennessee state senator John Ford, convicted of bribery-related charges in the “Tennessee Waltz” corruption scandal, talked about his trial, conviction, and jail conditions with WMTV of Memphis in his first television interview since being released from prison.
“Some say what I don’t know won’t hurt you. I beg to differ. What you don’t know will hurt you,” said Ford. “I don’t know what their motivation was … Except to go after John Ford.”
He wishes he had taken the stand during his trial
“[The video captured with taking money] was shown over and over again. They said, ‘Oh, he must have been doing something wrong.’ The mere fact of someone passing money to you or you taking money from someone is not a crime,” he said. “It’s not a federal crime. It’s not a state crime. It’s not a state law crime.”
Federal prosecutors called the tapes smoking guns. It consisted of eight video clips of Ford taking stacks of $100 bills from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for political favors.
Ford’s defense attorney Mike Scholl argued at the time that Ford believed the payments were for legitimate business advice.
“That money, in essence, was for me working for, as a consultant for the person who lied, so to speak, that they were in a music production business and wanted me to do things to help promote them,” said Ford.
…”When they pass the money along to you, for something else you’re doing for them, they do it and start talking about this bill. It makes it appear as though you’re receiving this for a bill,” said Ford. “He said, ‘Well look, I have your money for your consultant work. He does that and when he’s doing it, he starts saying he has this bill on this company and blah, blah, blah.”
Ford says he was advised not to take the stand during his trial and said his attorney ignored his request to argue entrapment.
Attorney Mike Scholl says if Ford wanted to argue entrapment he would have had to admit to taking a bribe.
….Despite prison conditions, Ford has ‘no regrets’
“It was overcrowded and they had me sleeping on the floor for three months, concrete,” said Ford. “I only ate enough to survive. I think I lost 25 pounds and a great deal of my health. I was in perfect health.”
Ford moved to a half-way house after his release from prison in August 2012. A state law passed during his time behind bars that prohibits felons from running for office does not apply to Ford.
“I can run again, if I want to. The law doesn’t stop me from running. The law was passed after and the law can’t go back,” said Ford.
Ford cannot go back either. He says he has no regrets.
“It hurt my children more so than it did me and a lot of my constituents, because it was something they couldn’t understand,” said Ford. “The mistake I made was simply to trust people I didn’t know that well … “It’s not how far you fall, it’s how you get up.”