2 reindicted in Memphis bribery case
MEMPHIS (AP) — City Councilman Edmund Ford and former utility chief Joseph Lee were reindicted Tuesday on federal extortion and bribery charges as prosecutors seek to try the two together.
Last month U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Mays Jr. severed the trial of the two, at Lees request, because six of the 11 counts charged Ford with an alleged extortion scheme that does not involve Lee.
Ford and Lee are accused in the July indictments remaining five counts of trading favors, with Ford voting for Lee as president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.
In return, authorities allege, Lee allowed Ford to dodge utility payments, racking up bills of some $16,000 without penalty.
Federal prosecutors asked Mays in December to reconsider the severance, but also indicated that they might simply separate the charges and ask a grand jury for new indictments.
They argued that trying Ford and Lee together would promote efficiency since it involves hundreds of documents, many witnesses and likely will take at least two weeks.
Tuesday, Ford was reindicted separately on the same six counts alleging that he accepted thousands of dollars in payoffs for his vote on a zoning issue before the council in the fall of 2006.
Ford is the brother of former state Sen. John Ford, who was convicted on unrelated bribery charges and is waiting to serve a 5 1/2 year prison sentence.
Published in The Messenger 1.9.08
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