After almost five years in prison, former state Senator John Ford, looking slightly older and acting modestly subdued but otherwise looking not much the worse for wear, came home Monday — sort of.
Actually, his home for the moment isn’t exactly his, and it’s only temporary, though it’s right across the street from somewhat familiar surroundings — the Joe Ford Funeral Home, operated by his brother Joe, who, like the once legendary state senator and other members of the Ford clan, is a former public official and an undertaker by trade.
Ford, who once was chief operating officer of N.J. Ford Funeral Home, may re-enter the family business. All he said Monday about the future was that he planned ”to do great things.”That was uttered that with a hint of the old cocky John Ford smile, and he said, “You watch what I do. I am not down. I am not out.I am way out front.”
Ford spoke briefly with television reporters from the back seat of the federal vehicle that delivered him from a federal confinement facility at Yazoo City, Mississipi, to his new domicile, Dierson Charities halfway house on Winchester. He’ll live in the halfway house for at least the next week before entering a period of house arrest, presumably at one of his former residences.
Before his downfall, which stemmed from his arrest in 2005 and later conviction on charges of bribery and extortion relating to the FBI’s Tennessee Waltz, Ford maintained several residences for the multiple households inhabited by the wives and children of his serial marriages and relationships. He drove expensive automobiles, affected a Beau Brummel wardrobe, and indulged in lavish other tastes of various kinds.
But, in addition to these trappings of fame and position, the need to maintain which almost certainly contributed to his downfall, Ford was also a respected and powerful legislator, courted and depended on by the needy and deserving as well as by the unscrupulous and self-serving. And, history will doubtless tell, responsive to each.
He couldn’t be faulted Monday for a lack of positive outlook. “All I can say is, a minor setback to a great comeback,” he said. He had gone through “you know, an incredible bad experience, but I do not look back. I look forward.”
Ford talked fondly and proudly about his children in college and the love and encouragement he’d got from them.” I have a story to tell. I can’t tell it right now. We don’t have the time. But I have a tremendous story to tell." And, as the car began to move out of idle to take Ford to the doorway of his bare-bones new digs, he promised the media scrum, “We’ll talk later.”
And there’s no doubt. They’ll — we’ll— be listening.