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Wrapping Up Tennessee Waltz



John Ford boasted that he was "the guy who makes the deals," but court exhibits made public after his sentencing indicate that his friends and fellow deal-makers did not exactly swarm to his defense in his hour of need.

U.S. district judge Daniel Breen allowed letters of support for Ford to be placed in the public record in the case. In August, Breen sentenced Ford to 66 months in prison for his bribery conviction — the longest sentence so far in the Tennessee Waltz case.

Twelve people wrote letters to Breen on Ford's behalf requesting leniency in the sentencing. Seven of the writers were supporters and family members who also spoke at the sentencing hearing — Frank Thomas, Howard Richardson, Mabra Holeyfield, Pamela Wherry, Vickie Miller Brown, Joyce Miller Ford, and Autumn Ford Burnette.

Five others wrote letters but did not speak. They included attorney Edward Dixon of Shreveport, Louisiana; William H. Graves, presiding bishop of Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Jerry D. Taylor, pastor of Greater Love Baptist Church; and Billene Durham. One more letter was filed under protective seal, and its author is unknown.

While there is obviously a limit on the number of people who can speak at a sentencing hearing without overtaxing the judge's patience, there is no limit on letter-writing. Ford spent more than 30 years in politics in Memphis and Nashville. According to his attorney Michael Scholl, his supporters, and his own taped conversations, he was exceptionally powerful and effective and worked at the center of numerous big deals. But only one current elected official — state representative Ulysses Jones — spoke or wrote to Breen on Ford's behalf. No state or city officials spoke or wrote.

In other Tennessee Waltz news, government witness Barry Myers is scheduled to be sentenced October 4th. Kathryn Bowers has an October 24th sentencing date, and Ward Crutchfield is scheduled to be sentenced on November 28th. Ford has a court hearing in Nashville on September 18th and a November 6th trial date on federal charges stemming from his consulting work for TennCare providers.

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