By Jayette Bolinski | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford was indicted Thursday on federal bank fraud charges for allegedly getting a $500,000 line of credit to rehabilitate property but using the money to pay for his 2006 campaign for the legislature and other personal expenses.
Ford, 40, a Chicago Democrat, is charged with eight counts of bank fraud and nine counts of submitting false information to the bank in a 17-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury Thursday. It is unclear when he will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Ford represents the 8th District on Chicago’s west side and has been a lawmaker since 2007. He was a real estate investor on the side and owned a firm called Ford Desired Real Estate.
According to the indictment, Ford obtained a $500,000 increase and a two-year extension on a line of credit, as well as multiple advances, from the failed ShoreBank by saying he intended to use the money to rehabilitate investment properties in Chicago.
Instead, he allegedly used the money to pay for car loans, credit cards, other mortgages, payments to a Hammond, Ind., casino, and for his 2006 campaign for state representative.
Ford is not accused of any wrongdoing after he was elected in the fall of 2006, federal authorities noted Thursday.
Ford had multiple loans with ShoreBank, including a $1 million line of credit, which he was allowed to use only for the purchase and rehabilitation of investment properties. On May 22, 2006, he allegedly obtained a $500,000 increase and a two-year extension on his credit line. Authorities said he did so by submitting false tax return documents that inflated his personal and business income.
On seven occasions between April 2006 and March 2007, Ford allegedly applied for and obtained a total of $373,500 in advances from the credit line, saying he would use the money to fix up six different properties on Chicago’s west side. Each time, authorities alleged, he knew he intended to use the money for other things.
Federal authorities are seeking forfeiture of about $832,000 from Ford.
If convicted, Ford could face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each count of bank fraud Restitution is mandatory.
Ford, a licensed real estate broker, is a former history teacher and basketball coach for Chicago Public Schools. During his time in the legislature he had various committee assignments, including chairman of the Small Business Empowerment and Workforce Committee and vice-chairman of the Tollway Oversight Committee.
Another state representative, Derrick Smith, also a Democrat from Chicago’s west side, was indicted earlier this year on a single federal bribery charge for allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe in connection from his job as a state legislator. His case is pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, but his colleagues in the Illinois House voted in August to expel him because of the accusations against him. Smith, however, was re-elected in November, meaning he can return to the House in January when a new General Assembly is seated.