CHICAGO – Illinois state Rep. LaShawn Ford pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax fraud Monday at a federal court hearing in Chicago.
The Chicago Democrat pleaded guilty to one count of delivering a false federal income tax return for 2007 as part of a plea deal. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Ford had earlier pleaded not guilty to far more serious charges — eight felony counts of bank fraud and nine counts of submitting false information to the bank. But prosecutors said Monday that they would dismiss all the felony counts at Ford's sentencing on Nov. 11.
Each of the original counts carried a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and up to $1 million in fines.
A felony conviction would have resulted in Ford losing his seat in Springfield. His future in the Illinois Legislature was not immediately clear.
Prosecutors alleged that Ford made false statements to a bank to get a $500,000 increase on a line of credit starting as early as 2005.
According to prosecutors, Ford told the now-failed ShoreBank he would use the money to rehabilitate investment properties, but that he actually used the funds for expenses such as car loans, credit cards, casino payments and his 2006 election campaign.