A subdued Edmund Ford left the witness stand Monday afternoon after prosecutors replayed their payoff tapes and drove home their contention that the payments were bribes for Ford's influence over the Memphis City Council.
By testifying, Ford got to tell jurors his interpretation of the $8,900 in payments he took from lobbyist Joe Cooper in his own words. But he left himself open to a methodical cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi that could have a devastating effect on jurors.
Jurors heard Ford, on tape, utter such memorable lines as "You know I can carry seven votes, can't I?" and "We got all the votes" and "I'll drum up seven or I'll make somebody walk out" and "Really, I didn't have too much of a problem" at the very moment he was taking wads of $100 bills from Cooper and sliding them inside his coat pocket.
Ford and his attorney Michael Scholl continued to put Cooper "on trial" as Ford called him a liar who "ran off at the mouth" and had as many as three personalities. But the government and Cooper have readily acknowledged his 1977 federal conviction and his more recent conviction on money-laundering charges.
As one payoff tape was played, Ford explained that he was "very busy" that day and things were "going in one ear and out the other."
Laurenzi replied, "Why didn't you give it back?" as the tape was stopped so jurors could see the money on the screen in the courtroom.
Ford said he kept it to pay down a loan on the funeral home from developer Jackie Welch.
"It was for your benefit, right?" Laurenzi countered.
The day ended with Scholl calling eight character witnesses for Ford. With the jury out of the courtroom, Scholl told U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays he will use an entrapment defense.
That defense did not work in Tennessee Waltz cases and is considered something of a long shot.
Mays told jurors they can expect to begin deliberations Tuesday afternoon.