Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Don't Believe My Eyes

I certainly hope this case doesn't drag on much longer. It's a waste of taxpayer money. Edmund Ford is guilty just like his brother John. It doesn't matter that he was targeted. If he wasn't dirty, it wouldn't make a difference. Would a policeman be excused for taking part of your money, just because he knows you won it shooting craps in the bed of a truck? It would still be a dirty cop. I hope they don't drag this thing out for years with appeals.The citizens of Memphis have been sold out by this family for years. Let's bring this fleecing to a halt.

I heard he was offered a plea bargain and probation, but he turned it down. He would have you think it's a matter of principal, because he didn't do anything. But that's not the reason though. It has more to do with the fact that he doesn't have anything to lose. The plea deal also included him losing his mortuary licence. What good was it to be free and be out of business. His lawyer Michael Scholl will use every trick in the book. The Ford family is keeping him busy these days. I don't think he'll be successful with getting him off. But he has an angle I'm sure. I think the focus now is saving his livelihood. The only way I believe his defense. I don't believe my eyes.


Blogger Common said...

Cozy dealings for Ford, Cooper
By Lawrence Buser (Contact)
Friday, May 16, 2008

Political consultant Joe Cooper testified Thursday that working his relationship with wealthy business clients and politicians involved doing favors for both and was "like being the world's greatest concierge."

The government's key witness in former City Councilman Edmund Ford Sr.'s federal extortion and bribery trial said he and Ford regularly did favors for one another though never discussed bribes.

Cooper also said Ford had never accepted money before the 2006 FBI sting in which Cooper passed him $8,900 while wearing hidden recording equipment.

"I did not trick him," said Cooper, who has admitted he cooperated with the FBI in hopes of getting a sentencing break on his money-laundering conviction last year. "I handed it to him and he could have pushed it back. He didn't have to take it."

Videotapes played in the trial this week show Ford accepting four payments between August and November 2006 with Cooper encouraging him to pay overdue car notes on the $50,000 Cadillac SRX that Cooper had helped lease in 2004 by using developer Rusty Hyneman as a cosigner.

Cooper said he could not recall if he signed Hyneman's name to Ford's car lease, but that he often signed other documents for Hyneman at the developer's request because they were "as close as brothers."

In a civil suit filed last year, Hyneman said his name was forged without his approval.

Cooper said he did other favors for Ford, including finding a Whitehaven property site for his mortuary and arranging a $40,000 loan from developer Jackie Welch for renovations.

In return, Cooper testified, Ford voted in his favor 99 percent of the time on zoning and other issues before the City Council that Cooper was backing for well-heeled clients.

"He was one of my two point people on the City Council," Cooper told the jury. "If something was not recommended by another body, like the Office of Planning and Development or the Land Use Control Board, it was almost impossible to get something passed by the council."

Cooper's second point person apparently was Rickey Peete, a former council member now serving 51 months in federal prison for accepting $14,500 in bribes from Cooper.

Federal prosecutors allege that Ford, after accepting money from Cooper, helped push through a billboard and development project on I-240 for a client of Cooper's, even though it had received "double rejection" by the OPD and LUCB.

During his second day of cross-examining Cooper, defense attorney Michael Scholl emphasized in questioning that Ford had never taken money before and described the sting as "a fishing expedition. "

"I've never had any discussions about bribes with Mr. Ford, that's correct," Cooper said. "I didn't know if he'd take the money. In the past he'd do things for me. I'd do favors for him, but I did not pay cash."

Cooper is facing 30 to 37 months in prison for laundering money for drug dealers while he was a car salesman at Bud Davis Cadillac. He said the car dealer was not aware of his actions.

The trial before U.S. Dist. Court Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. resumes this morning and is expected to go into next week.

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cooper regulary helped Ed Ford, wife testifies
By Lawrence Buser (Contact)
Friday, May 16, 2008

The wife of former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Sr. said this morning that political lobbyist Joe Cooper came to their funeral home so often in 2006 that one employee jokingly suggested he be given an office.

Myrna Ford’s testimony came after the prosecution rested its case against her husband, who is charged with taking $8,900 in bribes from Cooper to spearhead City Council approval of a billboard and development project.

The defense contends Ford was hounded, manipulated and set up by Cooper, the government’s key witness who was cooperating with the FBI in hopes of getting a sentencing break for his own money laundering conviction.

“He came so much that one employee said we should just get Mr. Cooper an office at the funeral home,” said Myrna Ford. “We had a very kindly relationship.”

Mrs. Ford said that over the years Cooper had helped them find a new location and financing for their funeral home and had in 2004 acquired a new Cadillac for her husband on which they paid the monthly notes.

Despite filing bankruptcy in the late 1990s, however, she said they could arrange financing without Cooper’s help.

She said that after three meetings between Cooper and her husband in August and October of 2006, her husband gave her cash totaling $6,900 and told her to make monthly payments on the Cadillac.

Mrs. Ford said she did not learn until later that Cooper had made developer Rusty Hyneman a cosigner on the car lease. Hyneman has said Cooper forged his name without his permission.

Secret videotapes of Cooper passing the money to Edmund Ford have been shown to the jury as well as a fourth payment made in November shortly before Ford was arrested.

Cooper was a car salesman and lobbyist for developer William Thomas who was seeking council approval of a billboard-and-development project on the south loop if I-240.

Despite being rejected by the city’s Office of Planning and Development and the Land Use Control Board, the plan was approved 9-2 by the council in October 2006.

Also on Friday, U.S. Dist. Court Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. denied a defense motion for acquittal, a standard motion presented at the end of the government’s proof in a trial and one that is rarely granted.

Mays noted that money was exchanged over a period of months and that Ford performed official acts during that time.

“It’s up to the jury to decide what the meaning of that exchange was,” the judge said.

Defense attorney Michael Scholl said there was no agreement or discussion that Ford was to vote a certain way in exchange for money from Cooper.

“They wanted to throw out money to see if he’d take it and it wasn’t even in the form of a bribe,” Scholl argued. “It was in the form of a car payment.”

Federal prosecutors countered that an exclusive quid pro quo is not required under the law.

“The issue is whether payments were made in return for official acts,” said federal prosecutor Tom Colthurst. “He repeatedly accepted money and was counting up votes for Mr. Cooper. ... The intent was there.”

The trial resumes Monday with Mrs. Ford still on the witness stand.

11:28 PM  

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