Memphis councilmen, including another Ford, face bribery charges |

Memphis councilmen, including another Ford, face bribery charges

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Two city councilmen, including the uncle of U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., were charged Thursday with taking thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for their votes to allow new billboards in the city.Memphis council members Edmund Ford and Rickey Peete face federal charges that they took nearly $7,000 and $12,000, respectively, from an informant.Edmund Ford comes from a prominent political family in Memphis: His brother is former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr., the first black congressman in Tennessee, and his nephew is Ford Jr., the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in November.The informant paid the council members between Aug. 30 and Oct. 27 in exchange for their votes on a real estate proposal and the repeal of a moratorium on putting up billboards in the city, the FBI said. The informant, whose identity wasn’t released, made audio and video recordings of cash payments to the men, the charges said.The informant began working with federal agents after he was indicted on criminal charges in an unrelated investigation, the charges against the councilmen said.Peete and Ford each made initial court appearances Thursday and were released on their own recognizance. Neither Peete nor Ford returned phone calls seeking comment.The charges carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.Peete was convicted on a separate federal bribery charge in 1989 while on the Memphis City Council and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.After serving his time, Peete’s voting rights were restored and he was re-elected to the City Council.The charges are unrelated to the 2005 public corruption sting that ensnared five former and current Tennessee lawmakers, including Edmund Ford’s brother, state Sen. John Ford.

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