Former Sens. John Ford and Roscoe Dixon get rights restored

Three former public officials convicted on corruption charges in the Tennessee Waltz scandal a decade ago have obtained court orders restoring some of their citizenship rights, reports the Commercial Appeal. They will now be allowed to vote and serve on a jury, but they cannot hold public office or own a gun.

Former state senators John Ford (and) Roscoe Dixon, (along with) former Shelby County commissioner Michael Hooks Sr., all served federal time, but earlier this month received orders from two judges that restored their rights as citizens.

Dixon and Hooks attended a press conference on Monday to discuss the challenges in becoming full American citizens again and to encourage others. Ford was not present.

Former Shelby County commissioner Michael Hooks pleaded guilty to accepting $24,200 in bribes from informants or FBI agents posing as corrupt businessmen pursing deals with Shelby County government. He was sentenced to 26 months in federal prison. He served 15 months. 

…Dixon was convicted in 2006 on bribery and extortion charges after he was caught accepting $9,500 to help pass legislation. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

He is now a community relations specialist with the Cocaine Alcohol Awareness Program.

“What this means, I am back in America, I’m an American. I’ve paid my debt and now I should be able to have the same privileges that everybody else has once you’ve paid off that debt,” he (Dixon) said.

Hooks now works in real estate valuation services and acknowledges that since his release he’s tried to  stay under the radar.

“I know that a lot of people, for whatever reasons — the money, not understanding the process, not having counsel, not having people to research this — are sitting around and not being full citizens that have earned the right to do so,” he said.

The restoration of their rights also allows them to obtain licences in certain professional fields, said attorney Walter Bailey, who represented the men in court.

…Ford was convicted in 2007 of accepting $55,000 in cash payoffs from an undercover agent posing as a corrupt businessman seeking tailored legislation. He was released in 2012.

Note: Former Rep. Kathryn Bowers, also of Memphis and who also plead guilty to taking a bribe, died in 2015.

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